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cHarpefs Magazine 



VOLUME 185 



June, 1942 November, 1942 







HARPER 



& BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS 
NEW YORK AND LONDON 

1942 



CONTENTS 



Air Conditioning, 370 

Air Raid Casualties, How to 
Care For, 245 

Allen, Frederick Lewis — Draft- 
ing This Army, 121 

Allen, Jay — The Prisoners of 
Chalon, 404 

Americans in Battle. No. I: 
Campaign in the Java Sea — 
Fletcher Pratt, 561 

Another April. A Story — Jesse 
Stuart, 256 

Arctic, The, 639 

Argentina, Explaining, 535 

Army Sorts Its Manpower, 
How The— Walter V. Bing- 
ham and James Rorty, 432 

Army's Future Political Power 
—Harold M. Fleming, 212 

Aswell, Edward C. — The Case 
of the Ten Nazi Spies, 1 

Automobile a Future, Has the 
— George R. Leigh ton and 
Joseph L. Nicholson, 63 

Aviation 

Combat Over Coventry, 90 
Don't Forget the Dirigible!, 

608 
Sky Trucks Coming, 113 

Battle Against the Sub- 
marines, Our — Lawrance 
Thompson, 449 

Beard, Charles A, — Talking 
into the Wind, 607 

Between Hitler and Musso- 
lini — Ernest Rudiger Prince 
Starhemberg, 165 

Biddle, Francis — Mr. Justice 
Holmes, Two Parts, 470, 593 

Bingham, Walter V. — How the 
Army Sorts Its Manpower, 
432 

Blackout, Seeing in a — Selig 
Hecht, 160 

Blood and Banquets. Two 
Parts— Bella Fromm, 348, 543 

Boyle, Kay — Hilaire and the 
Marechal Petard, 284 

Brenner, Anita — ^The Wind That 

Swept Mexico. Part /, 619 
Britain, Great 

Report on Britain, 509 
Broadcasters, What's Wrong 
WITH the — Bernard B. Smith, 
83 



Bromley, Dorothy Dunbar — ^A 
Career for College Girls, 76 

Buck, Pearl S. — The Enemy, 
581 

Career for College Girls, A 
— Dorothy Dunbar Bromley, 
76 

Cams, Clayton D. — One Way 
to Cripple Japan, 30 

Case of the Ten Nazi Spies — 
Edward C. Aswell, 1 

Central America, 418 

Chamberlin, William Henry — 
The Russian Enigma, 225 
Why Civil Liberties Now?, 
526 

Chase, Stuart — Freedom from 
Want, 459 

China 

What We Want in the Far East, 
97 

Civil Liberties Now?, Why — 
William Henry Chamberlin, 
526 

Civilian Defense — There She 
Stands — C. Lester Walker, 
235 

Combat Over Coventry — By- 
ron Kennedy, 90 

Come and Get It — Stanley J. 
Goodman, 376 

Corporation, Future of the 
— Peter F. Drucker, 644 

Coventry, Combat Over, 90 

Crooked Cross, The — Franz 
Werfel, 498 

"Damn the Torpedoes !" — 
Helen Lawrenson, 208 

Davis, Elmer, 336 

Davis, Michael M. — ^The Doc- 
tor Shortage, 602 

Deadly Parallel, The, 638 

Debt, That Post-War Fed- 
eral — John T. Flynn, 180 

DeVoto, Bernard — The Easy 
Chair, 109, 221, 333, 445, 
557, 669 

Dirigible !, Don't Forget the 
— C. Lester Walker, 608 

Distribution After the War, 
Mass, 376 

Doctor Shortage, The — Mi- 
chael M. Davis, 602 

Douglas, Mr. Justice — Rich- 
ard L. Neuberger, 312 



Draft-Board Clerks, And 
Speaking Of, 402 

Drafting This Army — Fred- 
erick Lewis Allen, 121 

Drucker, Peter F. — The Fu- 
ture of the Corporation, 644 

Dyer, Murray — Samuel Blane, 
394 

Easy Chair, The — Bernard 
DeVoto, 

Commencement Address, 221 
Dead Center, 557 
Give It to Us Straight, 333 
Sedition's General Staff, 109 
Triangular Bandages Go on 

Babies, 445 
Wanted: More News, 669 

Eckstein, Gustav — The Japa- 
nese Mind Is a Dark Corner, 
660 

Eight-Oared Shell, The — 
Oliver La Farge, 174 

El Salvador, 418 

Eliot, T. S.— In Praise of Kip- 
ling's Verse, 149 

Enemy, The. A Story — Pearl S. 
Buck, 581 

Engel, Leonard — The Sources 
of Germany's Might, 1 99 

England — See under Britain, 
Great 

Experiment with the Imagi- 
nation — Diarmuid Russell, 
428 

Explaining Argentina — Ysa- 
bel Fisk, 535 

F.B.I., 1 

First Aid Training, 445 

Fisk, Ysabel — Explaining Ar- 
gentina, 535 

Fleming, Harold M. — The 
Army's Future Political 
Power, 212 

Flynn, John T.— That Post- 
war Federal Debt, 180 

Four Strong Men and a 
President — Lawrence and 
Sylvia Martin, 418 

Freedom from Want — Stuart 
Chase, 459 

Freedom to Produce — Joseph 
H. Spigelman, 261 

Frenchman Six Feet Three, 
The — Glenway Wescott, 131 

Fromm, Bella — Blood and Ban- 
quets, Two Paris, 348, 543 



HS-i79 



I-'UM/KK ()|- nil', ( lORI'ORAIION, 

TiiK Peter !•". Dnirkcr, 644 

Gkrmany 

Blood and Banquets, 348, 543 
Case of the Ten Nazi Spies, 1 
Prisoners of ('halon, 404 
Sources of Cierinany's Might, 
199 

Goodman, Stanley J. — Come 
and Get It, 376 

Guatemala, 418 

Hanson, Earl Parker — The Polar 
Route to Victory, 639 

Haskell, Douglas — The Revolu- 
tion in House-Building, 47 

Haynes, Eldridge — Report on 
Britain, 509 

Hecht, Selig — Seeing in a Black- 
out, 160 

Here Come the Ships — Irwin 
Ross, 322 

High, Stanley — Jews, Anti- 
Semites, and Tyrants, 22 

Hilaire and the Marechal 
Petard— Kay Boyle, 284 

Hitler and Mussolini, 165 

Holmes, Mr. Justice. Two Parts 
—Francis Biddle, 470, 593 

Honduras, 418 

Horgan, Paul — A Try for the 
Island, 37 

Hotels Into Hospitals — Char- 
lotte Muret, 245 

House-Building, Revolution 
IN, 47 

How Latin Americans Die — 
Charles Morrow Wilson, 141 

How TO be Cool at 93° — 
Clarence A. Mills, 370 

Howe, Quincy — 12 Things the 
War Will Do to America, 575 

Huxley, Julian — On Living in a 
Revolution, 337 

In Praise of Kipling's Verse — 
T. S. Eliot, 149 

Intelligence Officer, An — 
The Japanese in America, 
489 

Japan 

Japanese in America, The, 489 
Japanese Mind Is a Dark Cor- 
ner, The, 660 
Japanese Smuggling, 387 
Moving the West Coast Japa- 
nese, 359 
One Way to Cripple Japan, 31 
What We Want in the Far 
East, 97 

Java Sea Campaign, 561 

Jews, Anti-Semites, and Ty- 
rants — Stanley High, 22 



Kelly, Ircd C— Those Radio 

Aiinounr.ers, 632 
Kermerly, Byron — (Joriihat (Jvcr 

Coventry, 90 
Kipling, Rudyard, 149 
Kramer, Dale John L. Lewis: 

Last Bid?, 275 
La Large, Oliver— Eight-Oared 

Shell, The, 174 

Scientists Are Lonely Men, 

652 
Langcwiesche, Wolfgang — What 

Makes the Weather, 478 
Latin Americans Die, How, 

141 
Lawrenson Helen — "Damn the 

Toepedoes!", 208 
Leighton, George R. — Has the 

Automobile a Future?, 63 

Plastics Come of Age, 300 
Lewis, John L., Last Bid? — 

Dale Kramer, 275 
Manpower, How the Army 

Sorts Its, 432 
Martin, Lawrence and Sylvia — 

Four Strong Men and a Presi- 
dent, 418 
McNichols, Charles L. — One 

Way to Cripple Japan, 30 
McWilliams, Carey — Moving 

the West-Coast Japanese, 359 
Medical Action at Pearl 

Harbor — W. H. Michael, 

270 
Merchant Marine, 208 
Mercury, Case of the Miss- 
ing Mexican — Strother H. 

Walker, 387 
Mexico 

Case of Missing Mexican Mer- 
cury, 387 

Wind That Swept Mexico, 619 
Michael, W. H.— Medical Ac- 
tion at Pearl Harbor, 270 
Mills, Clarence A. — How to be 

Cool at 93°, 370 
Mobbing, The — J. Saunders 

Redding, 189 
Moorer, T. H. — Routine Patrol 

Out of Port Darwin, 308 
Moving the West-Coast Japa- 
nese — Carey McWilliams, 359 
Muret, Charlotte — Hotels Into 

Hospitals, 245 
Mussolini and Hitler, 165 
Neuberger, Richard L. — Mr. 

Justice Douglas, 312 
Nicaragua, 418 
Nicholson, Joseph L. — Has the 
Automobile a Future?, 63 
Plastics Come of Age, 300 



NiNK PRINCII'LI S <)V WaK, 1 HK 

Mal(:(;lrn Whrcjrr-Nichol- 
s(jn, 297 
Nursing as a Carkkk kjr Cloi,- 

I.KGK (ilRLS, 76 

On Living in a Kkvoi.ution — 
Julian 1 luxley, 337 

One Man's Meat— E. B. White, 
105, 217, 329, 441, 553, 615 

One Way to (Jrippi.e Japan — 
Charles L. McNichols and 
Clayton D. Canas, 30 

Pearl Harbor, Medical Ac- 
tion AT, 270 

Peffer, Nathaniel— What We 
Want in the Far East, 97 

Pfeiffer, John — The Story of 
Plasma, 518 

Plasma, The Story of — John 
Pfeiffer, 518 

Plastics Come of Age — Joseph 
L. Nichols and George R. 
Leighton, 300 

Polar Route to Victory, The 
— Earl Parker Hanson, 639 

Post-war Planning 

Freedom from Want, 459 
Freedom to Produce, 261 
That Post-War Federal Debt, 

180 
Twelve Things the War Will 
Do to America, 575 

Pratt, Fletcher — Americans in 
Battle. No. L Campaign in 
the Java Sea, 561 

Prisoners of Chalon— Jay Al- 
len, 404 

Radiant Heat, 371 

Radio 

Washboard Weepers, 63 
What's Wrong with the Broad- 
casters, 83 

Redding, J. Saunders — The 
Mobbing, 189 

Report on Britain — Eldridge 
Haynes, 509 

Revolution in House-Build- 
ing, The — ^Douglas Haskell, 
47 

Revolution, On Living in a 
— ;Julian Huxley, 337 

Rorty, James — How the Army 
Sorts Its Manpower, 432 

Ross, Irwin — Here Come the 
Ships, 322 

Routine Patrol Out of Port 
Darwin— T. H. Moorer, 308 
Rowing, 174 

Russell, Diarmuid — An Experi- 
ment with the Imagination, 
428 



Russian Enigma, The — ^Wil- 
liam Henry Chamberlin, 225 

Russian Overture, 1910 — Al- 
bert Spalding, 55 

Samuel Blane. A Story — Mur- 
ray Dyer, 394 

Scientists Are Lonely Men — 
Oliver La Farge, 652 

Seeing in a Blackout — Selig 
Hecht, 160 

Sheehan, William M. — Sky 
Trucks Coming, 113 

Shipbuilding, 322 

Sky Trucks Coming — William 
M. Sheehan, 113 

Smith, Bernard B.— What's 
Wrong with the Broadcast- 
ers?, 83 

Sources of Germany's Might, 
The— Leonard Engel, 199 

Spalding, Albert — ^Russian Over- 
ture, 1910, 55 

Spies, Case of Ten Nazi, 1 

Spigelman, Joseph H. — Free- 
dom to Produce, 261 

Starhemberg, Ernst Rudiger 
Prince — Between Hitler and 
Mussolini, 165 

Stuart, Jesse — ^Another April. 
A Story, 256 



Submarines, Our Battle 

Against the — Lawrance 

Thompson, 449 
Summer Camps, 557 
Swinnerton, Frank — The Writ- 
er in Wartime, 247 
Talking into the Wind — 

Charles A. Beard, 607 
That Post- War Federal Debt 

—John T. Flynn, 180 
Thompson, Lawrance — Our 

Battle Against the Subma- 
rines, 449 
Those Radio Announcers — 

Fred C. Kelly, 632 
Try for the Island, A. A Story 

— Paul Horgan, 37 
Twelve Things the War Will 

Do TO America — Quincy 

Howe, 575 
Walker, C. Lester — Civilian 

Defense — There She Stands, 

235 

Don't Forget the Dirigible!, 

608 
Walker, Strother Holland — ^The 

Case of the Missing Mexcian 

Mercury, 387 
War News, 333, 669 
War, Nine Principles of — 

Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, 

297 



Washboard Weepers — Max 

Wylie, 633 
Weather, What Makes the — 

Wolfgang Langewiesche, 478 
Werfel, Franz— The Crooked 

Cross, 498 
Wescott, Glenway— The French- 
man Six Feet Three, 131 
What We Want in the Far 

East— Nathaniel Peflfer, 97 
What's Wrong with the 

Broadcasters? — Bernard B. 

Smith, 83 

Wheeler-Nicholson, Malcolm — 

The Nine Principles of War, 

297 
White, E. B.— One Man's Meat, 

105, 217, 329, 441, 553, 615 
Why Civil Liberties Now? — 

William Henry Chamberlin, 

526 
Wilson, Charles Morrow — How 

Latin Americans Die, 141 
Wind That Swept Mexico, 

The. Part I — Anita Brenner, 

619 
Writer in Wartime, The — 

Frank Swinnerton, 247 
Wylie, Max — ^Washboard Weep- 
ers, 633 



verse 



Aiken, Conrad — ^The Census 
Takers, 82 

Aragon, Louis — ^Dunkirk Night, 
642 

Catheron, Lorraine — Solar Song, 
260 

Census Takers, The — Conrad 
Aiken, 82 

Cruikshank, R. J. — On the An- 
niversary of a London Bomb- 
ing, 158 

Dunkirk Night — Louis Ara- 
gon, 642 

Headquarters — ^Mark Van 
Doren, 29 



Keller, Martha— Office for the 
Dead, 534 

Laing, Dilys Bennett — ^Yggdra- 
sill, 274 

Lullaby with Cricket Obbli- 
gato — Vivian Taylor Vogt, 
601 

Office for the Dead — Mar- 
tha Keller, 534 

Omen — Edward Wcismiller, 140 

On the Anniversary of a 
London Bombing — R.J. 
Cruikshank, 158 



Scarbrough, George — Poems of 
a Tennessee Farm, 74 

Solar Song — Lorraine Cath- 
eron, 260 

Tennessee Farm, Poems of a — 
George Scarbrough, 74 

Van Doren, Mark — Headquar- 
ters, 29 

Vogt, Vivian Taylor — Lullaby 
with Cricket Obbligato, 601 

Weismiller, Edward — Omen, 
140 

Yggdrasill — Dilys Bennett 
Laing, 274 



VOL. 185, NO. 1105 




j U N L 1 '; 4 2 



Harpers 




aoazine 



THE CASE OF THE TEN NAZI SPIES 



BY EDWARD G. ASWELL 



AT about eleven o'clock on the night 
J\ of March 18, 1941, two oddly as- 
sorted companions were observed walk- 
ing together in Times Square, New York 
City. One was a short man with 
hunched shoulders, a ruddy, intense face, 
full sensuous lips, a long nose, and small 
eyes set too close together. Every now 
and then he would turn his head slightly 
to one side with the quick, jerky motions 
of a bird and glance sharply about. His 
bearing suggested alert watchfulness. 
The other man was older, and obviously 
had enough self-assurance for the two of 
them. He held himself as straight as 
though he had a steel rod for a backbone, 
and looked neither to right nor left, but 
marched ahead like a man preoccupied 
with weighty business who knew where 
he was going and precisely how long it 
ought to take to get there. He was tall, 
dark, stern-eyed, and his lips were so 
hard and thin that they were just an 
old scar slashed across his face. He was 
carrying a briefcase. 

As the two started to cross Broadway 
against the lights the tall fellow forged 

Copyright, 1942, by Harper & 



ahead with such determination that he 
failed to notice a taxicab bearing down 
on him at high speed. He saw it just in 
time to leap from its path into the middle 
of the street, but darted in front of an- 
other cab coming from the opposite direc- 
tion which struck him a crunching blow. 
Police whistles sounded shrilly, traffic 
stopped, a crowd gathered round the 
prostrate form. For a moment the short 
man was stunned by the sudden catas- 
trophe; but he quickly pulled himself 
together, snatched up his companion's 
briefcase, and disappeared into the 
crowd. 

The victim was rushed to St. Vincent's 
Hospital, where he died within twenty- 
four hours without regaining conscious- 
ness. In one of his pockets was a Spanish 
passport in the name of Julio Lopez Lido, 
so the Spanish consulate was notified and 
took charge of the funeral arrangements. 

Perhaps that would have been the end 
of it, and the whole thing might have 
been dismissed as just another automo- 
bile fatality if the short, nervous man had 
not become panicky right after it hap- 

Brothers. All Rights Reserved. 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



pened. From the blood in the street 
he knew Lido had been injured seriously. 
Suppose he died? He had saved his 
companion's briefcase, but what about 
the baggage which was in Lido's room 
at the Hotel Taft? Suppose the F.B.L 
got hold of that? Perhaps the suitcases 
contained evidence that would betray 
who Lido really was. Also there might 
be clues that would point to himself. 
In the morning perhaps he could get 
the Spanish consulate to claim the bag- 
gage and hold it till a safe plan could be 
worked out, but meanwhile something 
ought to be done, and quickly. So a few 
minutes after he had left his companion 
lying in the street the short man stepped 
into a telephone booth and called the 
Hotel Taft. He said that Mr. Lido had 
met with an accident and asked the hotel 
to take good care of his baggage. When 
the voice at the other end asked questions 
he hung up without identifying himself. 

Until that moment the management of 
the hotel had had no reason to be suspi- 
cious of Mr. Lido. He had registered 
only a few days before, from Shanghai, 
China. But the anonymous telephone 
call struck the night manager of the Taft 
as queer. He notified the police, and 
the Public Administrator immediately 
took possession of Lido's baggage and 
later turned it over to the F.B.L 

The little man's fears proved to be 
well founded. Lido's baggage contained 
many interesting things. There were 
clues which eventually put the F.B.L on 
the trail of the short man, who turned out 
to be named Ludwig. Other clues re- 
vealed Lido to be no Spaniard at all, but 
Ulrich von der Osten, an oflficer in the 
German Army and a very important 
spider in the web of Nazi espionage. 

Receipted hotel bills and stubs of 
steamship tickets showed that von der 
Osten had recently arrived in this coun- 
try from Japan, where he had spent con- 
siderable time. He had come over on a 
ship which had put in at Honolulu. It 
had stopped there long enough to enable 
him, either by his own efforts or, more 
likely, with the help of spies operating on 



the spot, to obtain some highly confiden- 
tial information. On the stationery of 
the steamship line he had written it all 
down — a two-page report giving the 
Germans exact particulars about the de- 
fenses of Pearl Harbor and Hickam 
Field. It ended with a reminder that 
his findings would be of special interest to 
"our yellow friends." He had promptly 
dispatched the letter containing this re- 
port, but it had been intercepted and was 
already in the hands of the F.B.L They 
did not yet know the identity of the spy 
who had sent it, for he signed himself 
"Conrad." Through specimens of von 
der Osten's handwriting and other clues 
found among his eff'ects it was conclu- 
sively established that he had written the 
damning document. 

Von der Osten had come to New York 
to direct the work of Ludwig and other 
spies. After registering at the Taft he 
had lost no time settling down to busi- 
ness. He had got in touch with Ludwig, 
and Ludwig had introduced him to a 
married couple named Walter and 
Helen Mayer and to various other 
"friends" of his. Among these others 
was an eighteen-year-old girl, Lucy 
Boehmler. She had been acting as Lud- 
wig' s secretary and to her he had en- 
trusted some of the most secret details of 
his work. Von der Osten was going to 
need a secretary too, so Ludwig recom- 
mended Lucy for the job. The three of 
them had lunch together one day in a 
Manhattan restaurant and then went to 
von der Osten's room at the Taft. Von 
der Osten sent Ludwig out to buy a map 
of the United States, and when he re- 
turned the two men pored over it and 
made plans to take an automobile trip 
together along the Atlantic seaboard. 

All this had been accomplished in the 
brief interval between von der Osten's 
arrival and his accident. On his death 
Ludwig set about carrying out the plans 
they had concocted between them. 

Why a spy of von der Osten's caliber 
should have kept in his possession docu- 
ments which revealed so much of his ac- 
tivities is hard to explain. Of course 



THE CASE OF THE TEN NAZI S 



,S 



incriminating j).ij)crs can be dcsLixjycd 
easily and quickly when the need arises. 
There are always matches at hand, and 
flush toilets arc convenient inventions too. 
But so far there had appeared to be no 
need to destroy anything. Von der 
Osten felt safe. He was in a strange 
country, totally unknown, traveling un- 
der the protection of his Spanish pass- 
port. He had been careful to do nothing 
that might arouse suspicion. It had 
never occurred to him that his dangerous 
career could be ended, and one of the 
most active spy rings in America even- 
tually broken up, by a weapon so unmili- 
tary as a New York taxicab. 

II 

It was some months before Ludwig and 
eight of his fellow spies were finally 
rounded up by the F.B.I. Catching a 
spy is a tricky job and takes time. It 
may require weeks of hard work to run 
down clues that will, in the end, lead you 
to your man. And even after you have 
found him you can't simply rush in and 
nab him. You first have to shadow him 
to see who his accomplices are and you 
have to gather enough evidence to con- 
vict the whole ring. Only then can you 
spring the trap with reasonable assurance 
that, once caught and tried, they will all 
be kept out of circulation. 

Almost eleven months after von der 
Osten's death seven of the nine spies were 
brought to trial in a Federal Court in 
New York City presided over by Judge 
Henry W. Goddard. Two of the nine 
had pleaded guilty. One was Carl Her- 
mann Schroetter, captain of a fish- 
ing boat, who had spied on shipping. 
The other was Ludwig's secretary, 
Lucy Boehmler. The remaining seven 
claimed they were innocent of any 
wrongdoing, so it was up to the govern- 
ment to prove its case against them. 

This was the first spy trial held in the 
United States after w^e entered the war. 
It began February 3, 1942, and lasted 
five weeks. The evidence presented was 
voluminous, filling more than two thou- 



sand pages of ihe record. As Matliias 
F. Correa, the able y(jung U. S. Att(jrncy, 
said in his summation, every type of evi- 
dence that is permissible under our law 
was introduced. The documentary evi- 
dence alone consisted of some three 
hundred exhibits, and each of these ex- 
hibits was shown to the jury to inspect 
and study. I was a member of that jury 
and saw and heard it all. As the story of 
these spies was unfolded before us it was 
like the unraveling of the most exciting 
detective yarn — but with the immense 
difi'erence that this was real, and the is- 
sue at stake was nothing less than the 
safety of America. 

The trial occurred just at the time 
when the Japanese were winning the bat- 
tles for Singapore and Java; the news- 
papers had space for little else and did 
not report the trial adequately. That 
was a great pity, for the case is one that 
we Americans need to ponder well, for 
three reasons: 

First, the evidence laid bare the whole 
diabolical plot and system of Nazi espio- 
nage in this country. It was amazing to 
see how much territory these spies were 
able to cover, and the ease with which 
they gathered and transmitted to Ger- 
many and Japan information vital to the 
defense of the United States was some- 
times terrifying. 

Second, the evidence also revealed the 
eflfectiveness of the F.B.I, in dealing with 
espionage. There is reassurance to be 
drawn from the F.B.I.'s superb efficiency 
and teamwork in this case. 

Third, the case illustrated dramatically 
that in this total war, which has already 
let loose among us a new and insidious 
weapon that Mr. Correa called "total 
espionage," any one of us may at any 
time be called upon to lend a hand in 
smashing it. Two of the most important 
developments leading to the arrest and 
conviction of these spies — I have already 
mentioned one of them — came about 
through the voluntary action of private 
citizens whose suspicions had been 
aroused and who promptly reported the 
circumstances to the proper authorities. 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



III 



Among the early items of evidence sub- 
mitted at the trial was von der Osten's 
report on Pearl Harbor. Then came the 
incriminating contents of his baggage, as 
well as various things found on his person, 
which linked him to these defendants. 
There were the receipted hotel bills and 
ticket stubs, and much more. There 
was the map of the United States which 
Ludwig had bought. There was a 
folder of matches bearing the name of 
George's Diner in Ridgewood, Long Is- 
land, and a diagram drawn sketchily in 
pencil to show one who did not know the 
way how to get to this restaurant from 
New York. Later evidence proved that 
George's Diner was the place where von 
der Osten had met Ludwig and his 
"friends." 

Day after day for five weeks we of the 
jury sat where we could observe the 
seven defendants. It was fascinating to 
watch them. At the time of their arrest, 
as all the evidence indicated, they had 
been pretty badly scared. Since then 
they had spent enough time in jail to 
calm down and collect their wits. Now 
they were having their day in court. 
They were in the spotlight, and most of 
them were enjoying it. Just take a look 
at them as we saw them. 

You'd never guess it, but the insig- 
nificant-looking little man with the sandy 
hair, almost bald on top, the long nose, 
the close-set eyes, the quick, nervous 
manner, and the permanent grin on his 
face is an agent of the dread Gestapo. 
On the first day of the trial he was identi- 
fied by an eyewitness as the short man 
who was with von der Osten the night of 
the accident. He is Kurt Frederick 
Ludwig, forty-eight years old, born in 
Fremont, Ohio, taken to Germany as a 
small child, brought up there, married 
there, with a wife and three children liv- 
ing in Munich. He had visited the 
United States several times in the 20's 
and 30's, and when he finally returned 
here as a spy in March, 1940, he came on 
an American passport and posed as a 



salesman of leather goods. One of the 
first things he did was to get in touch 
with the German-American Bund. 
From the membership of that organiza- 
tion he picked willing helpers and 
whipped them into an efficient team of 
spies. These Bundists include most of 
the defendants on trial with him, as well 
as others named in the indictment who 
have returned to Germany, and also Lud- 
wig's secretary, Lucy Boehmler, who, 
after her arrest, agreed to testify against 
him and the others. Long before von 
der Osten arrived to supervise their ac- 
tivities and to co-ordinate their work 
with that of other groups similarly organ- 
ized, this particular spy ring was a going 
concern, functioning smoothly under 
Ludwig. 

Clearly Ludwig is the key man here. 
The newspapers, with their fondness for 
resounding cliches, called him the "mas- 
ter mind." But you need only to look at 
him to know that he is no master mind. 
The master mind behind this case is in 
Germany, and his name is Heinrich 
Himmler. Ludwig has been Himmler's 
faithful slave, carrying out his orders 
and sending back whatever information 
about us Himmler wanted. He has done 
it with incredible thoroughness. This 
called for tireless activity, cunning, 
shrewdness, and caution; and as one ob- 
serves him throughout the trial and sees 
the telltale grin stay fixed upon his face 
as the damning evidence piles up against 
him, one realizes that Ludwig represents 
a kind of twisted and terrible perfection. 
He is exactly what he appears to be — 
something Hitler has created in his own 
image — a sly little egotistical fox of a 
man — precisely the kind of insignificant- 
looking little Nazi that Himmler needed 
to do his dirty work. 

Beside Ludwig on the prisoners' bench 
sits a younger man in his early thirties, 
Ren^ Froelich — black hair, long nose, 
dark eyes that squint and blink with a 
nervous tic. Born in Dresden, Ger- 
many, he had been in this country some 
years when, in February, 1941, he was 
drafted into the American Army. He 



THE CASE OI- THE TEN NAZI SPIES 



was already working for Ludwig, so this 
suited him well. Sent to camp at Fort 
Benning, Georgia, he was able to supply 
Ludwig with details of camp organiza- 
tion and morale. Later, at his own re- 
quest, he was transferred to Fort Jay on 
Governor's Island, in New York Harbor. 
This was better still. Now he could see 
Ludwig and the others frequently in his 
free time. He was assigned to duty in 
the Fort Jay hospital. There patients 
were admitted from various camps in the 
surrounding territory, and each day a 
list of new admissions and discharges was 
made out and placed on the desk of 
Froelich's commanding officer. Froe- 
lich, as clerk to this officer, was supposed 
to remove the day-old lists. He did, and 
passed them on to Ludwig. They were 
very useful, because if a list showed that 
Lieutenant John Jones of the 76th Field 
Artillery had been admitted to the hos- 
pital from Camp Dix, then Ludwig was 
able to report to Himmler where the 76th 
Field Artillery was stationed. Froelich 
also supplied Ludwig with innumerable 
books and magazines — technical pub- 
lications about aviation and defense pro- 
duction, as well as service journals of the 
Army and Navy which he had ordered 
on hospital stationery. When he took 
the stand Froelich claimed that he had 
been in the subscription book and maga- 
zine business for several years before he 
was drafted, that he carried on his busi- 
ness as well as he could after he went in 
the Army, and that Ludwig was merely 
one of his customers. On cross-examina- 
tion he was pressed to name some of his 
other customers. He was able to recall 
only four to whom he had ever sold 
anything. 

On Ludwig's other flank in the court- 
room sits another black-haired man with 
pointed nose and little beady eyes sunk 
deep in their sockets. This is Karl Victor 
Mueller, aged thirty-six. He looks like 
a Tyrolese peasant, with a prematurely 
old face and deep furrows in his brow. 
He walks with a shambling gait, his 
whole body leaning forward, his head 
bobbing with each step, like an old man 



climbing a mountain. Indrrd, he is a 
mountaineer, born in a small Austrian 
village, but he has been in the United 
States long enough to become a natural- 
ized citizen. His loyalties, however, are 
not here. He wants to go back to the old 
country; has applied to the German 
authorities for a "rcimmigration per- 
mit"; and has answered a questionnaire, 
stating: "I would accept any work at all 
which I could perform in the interests of 
the Fatherland." Meanwhile the best 
thing he could do in the interest of the 
Fatherland was to help Ludwig in vari- 
ous ways. For example, he accom- 
panied Ludwig and some of the others on 
visits to defense plants and airports on 
Long Island. He also went with Lud- 
wig on an automobile trip to Washing- 
ton. On the witness stand Mueller 
draws comic relief from his heavy accent, 
and acts the clown, while Ludwig, watch- 
ing intently, doubles up with laughter 
and almost falls out of his seat at Muel- 
ler's droll claim that they were just a 
couple of innocent tourists with a camera. 
His clowning cannot disguise the fact 
that on the way down they stopped off to 
inspect Annapolis, and before returning 
they crossed over into Virginia to have a 
look around the new Washington airport. 
The only woman among the defend- 
ants is Mrs. Helen Pauline Mayer. 
Looking about twenty-five, she cuts a 
striking figure in her well-tailored clothes, 
and her rosy face, framed by light wavy 
hair, is rather pretty in a sharp way — 
though her eyes are too small for beauty, 
and are too close together; her nose too 
long and bony and pointed. (Note how 
the facial pattern repeats itself in these 
first four.) Helen Mayer was born in 
this country, but her husband, Walter 
Mayer (named in the indictment as a 
co-conspirator), is a true-blooded Ger- 
man citizen. In April, 1941, Walter 
Mayer and another co-conspirator, Heinz 
Hillebrecht, left the United States to re- 
turn to Germany by way of Japan. 
Walter Mayer had been working closely 
with Ludwig, as the evidence showed, 
and Ludwig fixed things with the Ger- 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



man consulate so that Walter could go 
back. Ludwig sent word to his superiors 
in Germany (the letter was in evidence) 
that Walter knew about his activities and 
was entirely trustworthy. The Mayer 
home had, indeed, been the common 
meeting place of these spies; both Helen 
and Walter had assisted Ludwig in every 
way they could. For example, Helen 
had a key to Ludwig's mailbox in the 
General Post Office, and when Ludwig 
was on a trip she would get his mail for 
him. But in the early summer after 
Walter left, Ludwig complained to the 
Gestapo (again we saw the letter) that 
Helen was pining for her husband and 
was not as useful to him as she had for- 
merly been. As a matter of fact, Helen 
was beginning to get frightened. Lud- 
wig was coming to the house too often, 
and she had reason to believe that it was 
becoming dangerous to have him there. 
The F.B.L had just rounded up a bunch 
of spies in Brooklyn, and this had sent 
shivers of cold panic through Ludwig's 
gang. Then too the original plan had 
been that Helen was to follow Walter and 
join him in Japan, but the State Depart- 
ment had refused to give her a passport. 
Did they suspect something? Helen was 
beginning to guess the truth — that agents 
of the F.B.L already had plans of their 
own for her future. 

Another defendant is Hans Pagel, a 
short, fair-haired youth with a round 
head, a smiling moon face, and plump ap- 
ple cheeks. He looks harmless enough, 
and reminds you of those jolly German 
hikers you used to see all over Europe 
dressed in shorts, with knapsacks on their 
backs and gay feathers in their hats; but 
like those hikers, who prepared the way 
for Hitler's invasions, Pagel is not as 
harmless as he looks. He has been 
deeply impregnated with Nazi ideas and 
no one has worked more assiduously for 
Ludwig than he. His special assign- 
ment was to cover the waterfront, watch- 
ing ships at the docks and reporting on 
the lend-lease cargoes taken aboard for 
England. (About halfway ^through the 
trial Pagel surprised the court by 



changing his plea from "not guilty" to 
"guilty." That made it four down and 
six to go.) 

On the bench beside Pagel, until Pagel 
eliminates himself, sits his closest friend, 
Frederick Edward Schlosser. He is a 
tallish, light-complexioned lad of twenty, 
with a rather open face and eyes that are 
frankly troubled, as though he were still 
wondering how in the name of God he 
ever got mixed up in all this. But he 
knows how it happened. He had been a 
district youth leader in the German- 
American Bund, which meant that from 
the start he was not unsympathetic to the 
Fatherland. He was born in New York, 
but has visited relatives in Germany. 
Pagel was engaged to Schlosser's sister, 
and the two boys saw each other all the 
time. Pagel was working enthusias- 
tically for Ludwig and kept urging 
Schlosser to join him. On the witness 
stand Schlosser said he had refused and 
had never helped Ludwig in any way. 
But before the grand jury he had told an- 
other story. There he admitted joining 
with Pagel to spy on shipping. There he 
also admitted giving Pagel, for Ludwig, 
part of an anti-aircraft gun made in the 
defense plant where he worked. More- 
over, it was proved that Schlosser al- 
lowed himself to be used as a go-between 
for letters which Ludwig wrote to Pagel 
in Schlosser's care. His contribution to 
the spy ring was less important than that 
of any of the others, but he played out to 
the end the part assigned to him — and in 
this he was like all the rest. In "total 
espionage" there is a place for everyone. 

The most interesting spy of the lot is 
Paul Borchardt. His role was something 
special, as we shall see. He does not sit 
with the other prisoners but has a place 
beside his lawyer at the defense counsels' 
table, as befits his rank of major in the 
German Army. He is now fifty-five and 
obviously a man of many talents. Dur- 
ing the First World War he served with 
the German Army in Arabia and the 
Middle East, and later was a professor of 
military geography in Munich. There, 
as he testified, he was a "disciple" and in- 



THE CASE OF THE TEN NAZI SlMi.S 



tiinatc associate of General Ilaushofer, 
the man who invented ' 'geopolitics" and 
created a technical school to train Nazi 
spies and fifth columnists, and the man 
who, more than any other, drew up Hit- 
ler's plans for conquest. That is Borch- 
ardt's background, yet he was admitted 
to this country early in 1940 as a refugee. 
He reported back to Germany that we 
Americans are stupid people. From the 
expression on his face throughout the 
trial, that seems to be what he is still 
thinking. For five weeks he sits listening 
attentively, his bald head with its fringe 
of gray hair slightly bowed, his keen, cold 
eyes rolled upward, the corners of his 
mouth turned down, his whole face 
frozen into a look of weary disgust. 

IV 

The government's chief witness was 
eighteen-year-old Lucy Boehmler, born 
in Stuttgart and brought to this country 
thirteen years ago. She had a phe- 
nomenal memory. She was also a girl of 
uncommon beauty, in the classic German 
pattern. Her blond features were regu- 
lar, and so perfectly modeled as to sug- 
gest a budding Briinhilde; yet there was a 
cool, "withdrawn quality in the face, a 
certain aloof immobility, which at times 
gave one the illusion that she w^as not 
flesh and blood at all but an ancient 
Teutonic image of a girl cut in polished 
marble. Perhaps it was fear that pro- 
duced this effect — fear of reprisals for 
what she was telling. More likely 
though it was some essential cold-blood- 
edness in her nature. She said she took 
up spying for the fun of it, and fun for her 
was danger. She gave every appearance 
of being a girl who would scorn to be 
afraid of anything. Whatever it was 
that sometimes made her face a mask, it 
was an extraordinary thing to see in one 
so young. 

But then, Lucy was in all respects an 
extraordinary witness. For three days 
she was on the stand. In a voice so low 
that we of the jury, only a few feet away, 
had to strain to catch her words, she told 



the whole story of this conspiracy, out of 
her own kn(jwlcdge and deep involve- 
ment in it. (Jn cross-examinatirjn the 
lawyers for the defense — there were three 
separate batteries of them — tried to 
break down her testimony. Lucy got 
her back up then and spcjke out loudly, 
angrily -and they did not crack her at a 
single point. What's more, later testi- 
mony documented her story with over- 
whelming proof. 

Just what did these spies do, and how 
did they do it? Not long after von der 
Osten's death, in April and May, 1941, 
Ludwig made the scouting trip which the 
two of them had planned. Up to this 
time the F.B.L had not yet succeeded in 
running Ludwig down, so he was still 
able to operate freely. He made the 
tour in his own car and took Lucy along. 
They covered the Atlantic seaboard from 
New York to the tip of Florida and visited 
almost every navy yard, army camp, and 
air field in the entire region. Ludwig 
carried his camera and snapped pictures. 
In his reports to the Gestapo he said ii 
was a great help to have the girl along. 
By himself he might have attracted at- 
tention, but with Lucy beside him they 
seemed to be just ordinary tourists. 

The technic of obtaining vital informa- 
tion was simple. Arriving at an army 
camp, for example, they might be 
stopped by a sentry at the gate, but they 
knew the right answ^ers to gain admit- 
tance. Once inside, they would look 
around and size things up. There were 
always plenty of other civilians about, vis- 
iting relatives or friends among the sol- 
diers, so these two were not conspicuous. 
In friendly fashion they would stop a sol- 
dier walking by and ask a few^ harmless 
questions. The soldier would go out of 
his way to be nice to them. After all, 
soldiers didn't often get a chance to talk 
to a girl like Lucy. Ludwig of course 
showed warm interest in the welfare of 
the Army, and by the time he and Lucy 
left they would know all about the camp 
— what outfits were stationed there, what 
States the men came from, what their 
morale was — everything. Lucy would 



^VJRLINeTIi^ 



8 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



then take notes, and later Ludwig would 
write up the information in a report to 
Himmler. 

Lucy testified that there was only one 
place which they tried to get into without 
success. That was the naval air station 
at Pensacola. Ludwig was indignant 
about it. There is nothing a spy appre- 
ciates more than a friendly and co-opera- 
tive attitude, and he had found it every- 
where but at Pensacola. Except for this 
he reported to the Gestapo that it was a 
fine trip and most enlightening. 

Perhaps it will be enlightening to 
America too. Such proven facts as these 
should help us to understand the way 
things were with us before December 7th, 
and why we were caught off guard at 
Pearl Harbor. We had been off guard a 
long time. 

Soon after returning from his tour with 
Lucy, Ludwig went south again, this 
time alone. He drove to Tennessee, 
where he witnessed and reported on the 
much-publicized U. S. Army maneuvers 
being held there that spring. 

Ludwig's steady stream of dispatches 
to Germany during the period of his 
activities covered almost everything you 
can imagine. There was information 
about the technical details of guns, air- 
craft, and other weapons of war. He 
had a lot to say, for example, about the 
Douglas B-19 bomber. He was also 
deeply interested in the work that was 
being done in the Grumman and Brews- 
ter airplane factories, and in the Sperry 
plant that was making the famous bomb- 
sight. These places were on Long Island 
and Ludwig made frequent trips out 
there in his car, always taking some of his 
helpers along. Here the girls came in 
handy again as "window dressing." 
Grumman was expanding and putting up 
a new factory, and Lucy testified that 
they rode by frequently to check up on 
the progress of the building. Ludwig 
wanted to know how soon it would be 
turning out planes. He reported to Ger- 
many on defense contracts, the rising tide 
of production, and strikes in defense 
industries. He sent information on the 



temper of public opinion in the country 
— how we were feeling about the war, 
and how we were divided over the Presi- 
dent's policies. He was forever clipping 
newspaper items on such matters and 
got the others to help him. The clip- 
pings were mailed overseas as fast as 
they came in. This was "total espio- 
nage," so everything was grist for his 
mill. 

Almost every report he sent abroad 
was packed with information about ship- 
ping in New York harbor. He told 
what ships were in port, and at what 
docks; what registry they were sailing 
under; what markings or distinguishing 
features each ship bore; what cargo was 
put aboard (airplanes, tanks, torpedo 
speed boats, etc.); and, if he had been 
able to find out, he stated when they were 
sailing and where they were bound. If 
there could be any doubt for what pur- 
pose he sent such information he removed 
it himself. In one letter that was inter- 
cepted and introduced in evidence Lud- 
wig told the Germans that the S.S. Ville 
de Liege was reported in the New York 
papers as having been sunk by a sub- 
marine. To this he added: "Many 
thanks." 

For obvious reasons, our own public 
was not told about the sending of U. S. 
troops to Greenland until they had safely 
arrived. Ludwig, however, knew it be- 
fore it happened. In a report to the 
Germans, fortunately intercepted, fie 
stated that the S.S. America was about to 
sail as a transport. He told how many 
troops were aboard, where they were go- 
ing, and exactly how the ship was 
painted. 

In the evidence were many photo- 
graphs found in Ludwig's possession at 
the time of his arrest. Lucy had testi- 
fied about the camera, and here was 
ample corroboration. There was no 
telling how many other photographs he 
had sent to Germany. The ones we 
saw were chiefly views of New York. 
They had been developed in strips, 
several to a page — pictures of almost 
every powerhouse in Manhattan, of all 



THE CASE OF THE TEN NAZI SPIES 



the bridges, of the doeks and waterfront. 
There was even a picture of the Federal 
Courthouse in which the trial was beint^ 
held. Skyline views also showed th(* 
formation of the buildings around the 
more military objectives, and one doesn't 
need to be a Sherlock Holmes to guess 
the purpose for which these shots were 
made. To disguise the purpose, how- 
ever, in case the prints should fall into 
the wrong hands, Ludwig had scattered 
through the series a number of pictures 
showing girls in bathing suits and such 
objects of the amateur cameraman's 
delight as Grant's Tomb and the Lincoln 
Memorial in Washington. 

Problems of sabotage also fell within 
Ludwig's province. While the trial was 
going on, the Normandie burned at her 
pier in the Hudson River. Official in- 
quiries have since concluded that this 
disaster was caused by carelessness, 
yet we saw there in court a report on the 
Normandie which Ludwig had sent to 
Germany as long ago as April, 194L 
Ludwig had been in custody more than 
five months before the trial began, so 
there could be no inference that he set 
the fire. Just the same, his was not the 
only gang of spies operating in New 
York, and his report established the 
fact that the Germans had been actively 
interested in the ship for some time. 

A clearer instance of sabotage activi- 
ties concerned the Grumman Aircraft 
Corporation. One of the assistant fore- 
men in this plant was a man named 
Alfred Feil, who had been born in Ger- 
many but had become a naturalized 
American citizen. He was an old 
friend of Helen and Walter Mayer, and 
saw them frequently. There was no 
evidence or implication that Feil is dis- 
loyal to this country, but he was cer- 
tainly "used" by his friends, the Mayers, 
who introduced him to Ludwig. Feil 
was an aviation enthusiast, loved his 
work, and liked nothing better than to 
talk about it. And it suited Ludwig and 
the Mayers perfectly to let him talk, 
putting in a question now and then to 
direct the conversation. Lucy testified, 



and Feil himsr-lf appeared as a witness to 
confirm her statements, that on one oc- 
casion Helrn Mayer asked Feil if he 
couldn't do something to slow down pro- 
duction at the Grumman plant. When 
he said no, Helen accused him of being 
"a very bad German." She also said she 
would report him to her husband, then 
on his way back to Germany, and that 
Walter Mayer would see to it that the 
Gestapo took care of Feil. 

How Ludwig was paid for his manifold 
services to the Fatherland was interest- 
ing. He would receive a message to go 
to some place at a given time and meet 
a stranger whose appearance v/ould be 
described. Once, for example, he was 
instructed to go to Childs Restaurant 
on 34th Street and to look for a man 
carrying the New York Times. Ludwig 
followed directions and saw a man at a 
table holding the Times up before him as 
if absorbed in reading it. Ludwig took 
the vacant chair, and the two men 
greeted each other as friends and talked 
a while. Then the stranger slipped 
Ludwig an envelope containing money. 
That was the way it always happened, 
and the presumption was that the mys- 
terious strangers came from the German 
consulate. Ludwig got sums ranging 
from $50 to S500 at a time. Certainly 
he didn't grow rich from his spying. 
In fact, he seemed to be chronically hard 
up. He had promised Lucy a salary of 
twenty-five dollars a week, but she said 
she never got it. On at least two oc- 
casions Ludwig had to borrow from the 
Mayers. Several of his letters to the 
Gestapo complained that his expenses 
were heavy and that he deserved better 
pay than he was getting, but, so far as 
the record went, he never got a raise. 
It must have been love of his work that 
kept him at it. 

V 

This spy ring used three principal 
methods of transmitting the information 
it gathered: 

Firsts by confidential courier. When Wal- 
ter Mayer and Heinz Hillebrecht left 



10 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



for Japan and Germany in April, 1941, 
they were entrusted with messages. 
That was an important pirt of their 
mission. Later, when Helen Mayer was 
preparing to join her husband, Lucy 
testified that Ludwig asked Helen to 
commit to memory certain information 
about the Douglas B-19 bomber. 

Second^ by short-wave radio. Ludwig 
owned a powerful short-wave sending set 
which was produced in court, knocked 
down in many sections. The F.B.L's 
radio expert testified that it was a very 
powerful apparatus, capable of sending 
direct to Germany. Ludwig also had in 
his car a short-wave receiving set which 
Froelich had helped him buy. That too 
was in court. It was very elaborate. 
No member of the jury had ever seen 
one like it. With that in his car Ludwig 
was able to receive instructions from 
abroad while he was on his trips. 

Third, by ordinary mail, though the 
devices used were so unusual as to make 
that term a misnomer. Let me explain: 

No letters were addressed to Herr 
Heinrich Himmler, Gestapo Headquar- 
ters, Berlin, Germany. Nothing as 
straight as that. All mail intended for 
Germany and Japan was cleared through 
neutral countries. Certain names and 
addresses in Spain and Portugal, in 
Argentina, and in Shanghai, China, 
were used for this purpose. Lucy said 
that these addresses were nothing but 
maildrops: the letters were sent on from 
there to their real destinations. One 
such name that turned up over and over 
again on the envelopes of Ludwig's 
intercepted letters was that of Manuel 
Alonso in Madrid. Lucy said that mail 
sent to Alonso was destined for Himmler. 

No letter was ever signed with the 
right name of the person who sent it. 
Each important spy in the combination 
had a key name. Kurt Frederick Lud- 
wig signed himself "Joe," and sometimes 
the others referred to him as "Joseph" or 
"Josefa." Paul Borchardt was "Rob- 
ert." Hans Pagel was "Bubi." Ulrich 
von der Osten was "Conrad" or "Con- 
nie." So too the return addresses on 



the backs of the envelopes were always 
fictitious. To avoid arousing suspicion 
by having such a steady stream of letters 
going out to the same foreign addresses 
in the same handwriting, Ludwig fre- 
quently got Lucy, Helen Mayer, or 
Mueller to address the envelopes. 

A constant risk was that letters would 
be opened and examined by the U. S. 
postal authorities, the F.B.L, or the 
British censors in Bermuda. Ingenious 
devices were used to get round that 
danger. Look, for example, at this 
letter, which is like many that were pro- 
duced in court. If you are a British 
censor you open the envelope and take 
out its contents. It is an ordinary piece 
of paper, typed on one side of the page 
only, and it appears to be a business 
communication from a New York ex- 
porter to one of his customers, a certain 
Manuel Alonso in Madrid. Part of it 
reads: 

Your order No. 5 is rather large — and I with 
my limited facilities and funds shall never be 
able to fill such an immense order completely. 
But I have already many numbers in stock, and 
shall ship whatever and whenever I can. I 
hope you have no objections to part shipments. 
. . . The No. 852, 853, 854, and 857 are not so 
very easy to obtain now. . . . Please give me 
more details about the merchandise to which 
our customers have any objections. Since they 
are paying for it, they are entitled to ask for the 
best. From the paying customers I take any 
time criticism — and I also should appreciate 
your suggestions for improving the quality and 
delivery. 

That seems harmless enough. Unless 
you know the ways of spies you'd never 
guess that this is double-talk, which, 
when translated into plain English, 
means that Ludwig is saying to Himmler: 

Your instructions to me in communication 
No. 5 call for a lot of work and will take some 
time to execute. Remember that I have only a 
few people working for me, and not too much 
money. I already have some of the informa- 
tion you want, and shall send it at once. The 
rest will follow as fast as I can get it. . . . 
The No. 852, etc. [code numbers for special sub- 
jects Himmler wants to know about] are harder 
to run down now than they used to be. . . . 
You say that some of my reports are not detailed 
enough, or not clear. Sorry about that. Tell 
me exactly how they fall short. You are paying 



THE CASE Ol IHE lEN NAZI SPIES 



11 



me to spy for you, and I want to do the job 
right. I shall approciatr any inslnictions you 
can give iiic (hat will improve my work and 
make more certain that my reports will fool the 
censors and get through to you. 

Now turn the sheet and examine the 
reverse side. It is perfectly blank, or so 
it seems. But if you are the British 
censor and send that letter on its way 
you will be putting into the enemy's 
hands many facts and figures which he 
needs for his plans against you. That 
"blank" side of the letter is literally 
packed with military and defense in- 
formation. It is written in invisible ink. 
Once it reaches its destination someone 
will run a hot iron over the sheet or hold 
it briefly over a gas flame, and the secret 
writing will turn brown and become 
clearly legible. 

Fortunately, the British censors knew 
what they were up against. Several 
members of the censorship staff at 
Bermuda were brought to New York and 
appeared on the witness stand to identify 
letters they had intercepted from this 
spy ring. Thirty-four such letters were 
introduced in evidence. The laboratory 
experts at Bermuda had subjected them 
to various tests and had succeeded in 
developing the secret writing very clearly. 
The British had then co-operated fully 
with the U. S. Department of Justice, 
sending on the letters for the F.B.I, to 
study. Now we of the jury saw them 
and read each one. 

Most of the secret writing was in 
Ludwig's hand, but some of it had been 
prepared by Lucy Boehmler. If Lud- 
wig was on a trip he might send Lucy a 
report on something and ask her to 
"inform Marion Pon." Lucy knew 
what this meant. Marion was the code 
name for Himmler. Pon was the code 
word for secret writing. Ludwig was 
telling her to send the information to 
Himmler in secret writing. 

As she testified, Ludwig had instructed 
her in the method. It was simplicity 
itself You take a pyramidon tablet, 
dissolve it in an eyecup of water, dip a 
toothpick in the solution, and write. 



As it dries it vanishes, !)nt any (onn of 
licat will bring it (jut. When arrested, 
Ludwig had several bottles of pyramidon 
tablets. The F.B.T. wanted to know why 
he carried so many. He said he was 
subject to chronic headaches. The head- 
aches, h(jwever, could not account for a 
little packet found among his eficcts 
containing a broken eyecup and several 
toothpicks stained slightly brown on the 
ends where they had very obviously been 
dipped in something. 

Another fascinating medium that Lud- 
wig used for his communications and 
records was code — a very .scrambled 
code. First he would write out what he 
wanted to say, partly in English, partly in 
German, mixing up the two languages as 
much as possible. He would put scattered 
sections of this gibberish into a numerical 
or alphabetical cipher. Other sections 
of the message would then be conveyed 
in what seemed to be meaningless lines 
and scratches. The result looked very 
baffling, but the code expert of the 
F.B.I. was equal to the task and broke it 
down. He took the stand to explain it. 
If you happen to be an expert in such 
matters, a cipher is fairly easy to break; 
so he first worked out Ludwig's system 
for that and decoded those parts of the 
message. Next came the queer lines and 
scratches. That turned out to be a 
form of German shorthand called Gabels- 
berger, invented in 1834 and now ob- 
solete. So he tackled that and solved it. 
Now the message was merely a mixture 
of German and English, and when the 
German parts were translated the whole 
meaning stood revealed. 

To identify the authorship of the many 
letters and documents in the case the 
handwriting expert of the F.B.I, was 
called to the stand. He had made im- 
mensely enlarged photographs of known 
specimens of Ludwig's handwriting, and 
from these he demonstrated Ludwig's 
peculiar style of writing, which was in a 
small, neat hand combining both script 
and printed letters in an unusual way. 
Thus he was able to prove convincingly 
just which things had been written by 



12 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



Ludwig. The same procedure was used 
to pin down tiie writings o£ the other 
spies. Similarly^ the several rv'pe writers 
owned by these spies had been examined. 
so that it was possible to prove on whose 
machine each r>-ped document had been 
WTitten. 

In a thousand details the evidence 
showed that the F.B.I, had left no loose 
ends hanging. By the time they were 
through there was not much they didn't 
find out about these spies. 

VI 

Toward the end of June, 1941 — not 
quite a year ago — a bunch of German 
spies operating in Brooklyn was rounded 
up by the F.B.I. This gave Lud wig's 
gang the jitters. Ludwig. Froelich. and 
Borchardt knew some of the people 
arrested. In fact, Ludwig himself had 
had a very close call. He had made an 
appointment to meet a man named 
Scholz. a member of the Brooklyn spy 
ring, at a certain bookshop in the York- 
ville section of Manhattan, and he 
arrived to keep the engagement only to 
see t^vo strange men precede him into the 
store. Cautiously he entered and went 
to the back of the store, where he pre- 
tended to examine the books. The 
strangers were agents of the F.BT., and 
before his very* eyes Ludwig saw them 
arrest the man he had come to meet. 
Ludwig then felt a sudden urge to be 
somewhere else, and vanished. 

Throughout the early period of his 
activities Ludwig seems to have carried 
out his assignments in the conviction that 
he was too smart to be caught. Lately, 
however, he had often had the feeling 
that he was being followed, and had 
WTitten to the Gestapo that he was having 
to hump himself to keep ahead of *'the 
competition." (These spies always re- 
ferred to the F.B.I, and the U. S. Mili- 
tary Intelligence as "the competition" or 
"our competitors.") Ludwig was right: 
he had been under surveillance for some 
time. At the trial an F.B.I, agent 
testified that on the afternoon of June 



ITih he had shadowed Ludwig and fol- 
lowed him to the Batterv*, where he met 
Froehch, the soldier, as he got off the 

Governors Island ferrv-. Froelich gave 
Ludwig a package. The agent trailed 
them all over town, observing ever>'- 
thing they did till near midnight. 
Among other things he saw them go into 
a German mo\-ie house on 96th Street 
which was showing the film, ••\'ictor>' in 
the West." When they came out he 
shadowed them till they parted, then 
followed Froehch back to the Governors 
Island fern.-. 

Ludwig was now badly scared by 
what had happened to his Brookl\-n 
friends. He wTote to the Gestapo that 
it was so hot in New York he thought 
he'd go to the mountains for a rest. So, 
early in July, he skipped town. He hid 
for several weeks at a summer camp 
called '"Lutherland" in the Poconos of 
Pennsylvania. From there he kept in 
touch wiih Lucy and other members of 
his gang by lener, and on one occasion 
Mueller drove Helen Mayer and Lucy 
to Lutherland to visit him. Pagel came 
to see him twice. Ludwig also managed 
to keep posted on the latest developments 
in the Brookl\*n case. He and the 
others were anxious, and the nature of 
their concern was made clear in a leuer 
Froelich wTote to Ludwig about Scholz, 
"I am sorrv' for our friend," said Froelich, 
"and I hope he will be able to go thru 
the ordeal without cracking up." Some 
of the arrested Brookl\-n spies were 
"cracking up" and telling what they 
knew. This filled Ludwig with right- 
eous anger. He wTOte several leuers to 
Himmler, one of them in code, reporting 
which ones were making "unpleasant 
statements" — in order, as he said, that 
the Gestapo might take reprisals against 
their families. 

This sinister touch shed a revealing 
Ught on the behavior of Ludwig and his 
fellow-defendants at the trial. Mr. Cor- 
rea, the U.S. Attorney, stated that of all 
Ludwig's gang only Lucy had volun- 
teered to help the government in any 
way. Even the t^vo others who pleaded 



THE CASE OF J i 1 E 1 EN NAZI SPIES 



13 



guilty refused to give evidence against 
their confederates. Eudwig himself out- 
did them all in this respect. He alone 
refused to go on the witness stand. 
When the government finished presenting 
its case against him his counsel rested 
without ofTering one piece of evidence 
or testimony in his defense. Eudwig 
knew the Nazi system of reprisals too 
well to risk uttering a word. He had a 
wife and children still in Munich. 

When Froelich took the stand he told 
a touching story about the period of Eud- 
wig's self-imposed exile at Eutherland. 
Froelich hinted delicately that he himself 
had been very much in love with Eucy 
Boehmler. While Eudwig was away 
Froelich sent Lucy several post cards 
(and he did send them — they were in 
evidence) asking her to meet him at 
various places when he was on leave. 
The government contended that Froelich, 
like all the others, had the wind up and 
wanted news of Eudwig. Froelich in- 
sisted that it was love — nothing but love. 
Time and again he tried to meet Eucy, 
but she never kept the appointments. 
When he could stand the pangs of his 
passion no longer he sent a final desper- 
ate plea — but Eucy stood him up again. 
It was more than he could bear, he said, 
so he had a nervous breakdown and had 
to be confined as a patient in the psycho- 
pathic ward at Governor's Island hos- 
pital. It was all very tender and sad. 

The government, however, proved 
unsympathetic to this tale of young love 
unrequited. An Army captain from 
Fort Jay was called to the witness stand. 
He testified that on July 23rd, the day 
Froelich had his attack of nerves, the 
agent of the F.B.E who had seen Eudwig 
and Froelich together came over to 
Governor's Island for the purpose of 
identifying the soldier. In the company 
of officers at Fort Jay the agent had 
visited the barracks. Soldiers off duty 
were lying on their cots. With the 
officers beside him, the agent walked 
slowly down the line, looking for a 
familiar face. At the foot of Froelich's 
cot the agent paused. Froelich seemed 



to be asleep. Suddenly he awoke and, 
startled, raised himself up on his elbow. 
If he did not rec(;giiize the agent, at 
least he guessed shrewdly who the man 
in civilian clothes was. The nervous 
breakdown that followed was genuine 
enough. It was sheer panic. So Froe- 
lich was sent to the psychopathic ward, 
and when he recovered sufficiently from 
his fright they put him in the guardhouse 
to await the F.B. E's further need of him. 

VII 

The net was drawing in. Eudwig de- 
cided that the Pocono Mountains weren't 
far enough away from New York for his 
peace of mind. Indeed, the whole 
United States suddenly seemed an un- 
healthy place. He felt homesick for Ger- 
many. He made up his mind to go back 
there — and the sooner the better. He 
would hop in his car and drive to the 
Pacific Coast, where he hoped he could 
catch a boat for Japan and safety. So, 
quietly, at the end of July, he slipped into 
New York to wind up his affairs. Then 
he headed west — alone. 

Not quite alone, for the F.B.E men 
were right behind him. All the way 
across the continent they never let him 
out of their grasp. One agent would fol- 
low him a day or two, then pass him on 
to another. A surprising number of 
them appeared at the trial. They came 
from as far away as Seattle and they ac- 
counted for every move Eudwig made on 
his epic flight. It wasn't till he reached 
Chicago that he realized he was being 
followed. From that point on he be- 
came a desperate man running for cover. 
Agents testified that he often drove his 
car at eighty miles an hour. The tactics 
of his pursuers baffled and terrified him. 
To his confederates in New York he sent 
brief notes full of his mounting panic. 

He did his best to outdistance the men 
who were shadowing him. Sometimes 
he thought he had succeeded in throwing 
them off. All one day he might go 
without seeing again the silent, watchful 
face which he had caught a glimpse of 



14 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



yesterday in a car behind him, and 
which he feh sure was that of an F.B.I, 
agent. Had he shaken them at last? 
By evening he was confident he had and 
he began to feel his old cocky self again 
as he drove into some town on the 
prairies and went to a hotel for the night. 
Then all at once, there in the lobby, he 
had the chilling sensation that eyes were 
watching him again. But this time the 
eyes belonged to a new face and he did 
not know which one of the men in the 
lobby it might be. Mein Gott, were they 
everywhere? He didn't know about 
their relay system. 

They made a fine showing in court, 
these agents of the F.B.I. They were 
young, intelligent, sure of themselves in 
a quiet, competent way. All of them 
seemed to be college graduates, and each 
man had had special training in the work 
he was assigned to do. They had the 
straight, clear eyes, the firm jaws, the 
steady look of men to whom life is a 
perilous adventure and who are not 
afraid of it. They had obviously had 
Ludwig just where they wanted him. 
They could have closed in on him at any 
time, but there was no hurry. Like a 
molting chicken whose tail feathers are 
blown away in a high wind, he was shed- 
ding valuable evidence all across the 
continent, and they were diligently pick- 
ing it up behind him. If he stopped in 
an express office to send a package they 
claimed it in the name of the govern- 
ment. If he went into a post office to 
mail a letter they were behind him and 
either got the letter almost before the 
stamp was dry or else let it go through so 
that the effect on Ludwig's accomplices 
could be observed. All this evidence 
was produced in court against him. 

By the time Ludwig reached the Rock- 
ies his money was running short. From 
Denver he wrote a shrill appeal to Lucy 
for help: "The competition is very bad," 
he said — and she sent him twenty dollars. 
That was all she could do for him now. 
Like every spy in a hot spot, he was on his 
own. Unless he could think of some way 
to save himself, he was lost. He was 



carrying in his car an accumulation of 
papers and documents which he had 
hoped to take out of the country with 
him. They would be dynamite if he 
were caught. He didn't know of course 
how much evidence the F.B.I, already 
had. 

One hot day in August — it was the 
21st — he drove into Yellowstone Na- 
tional Park and took a cabin for the night 
near Mammoth Hot Springs. The F.B.I, 
men were there too. One of the agents 
testified that Ludwig remained in his 
cabin till after dark. Then he came 
cautiously outside, went to his car, and 
carried back into the cabin an armful of 
papers. He made several trips back and 
forth between car and cabin. Soon 
afterward the agent observed smoke curl- 
ing from the chimney. Ludwig was ob- 
viously burning things in the little stove 
with which each of the Yellowstone cab- 
ins is equipped. The agents let him 
burn away. 

Early next morning Ludwig got in his 
car and drove out of the park. Two 
agents then entered the cabin he had 
occupied and examined the contents of 
the stove. Many of the burned papers 
had been reduced to powdered ashes, but 
some of them, though charred black, had 
not completely disintegrated. The agents 
removed all the charred fragments and 
carefully packed them in cotton in some 
twenty or thirty cardboard cartons. 
These were then sent for analysis to the 
F.B.L laboratory in Washington. There, 
infra-red photographs were made of 
every scrap. This had the eff'ect of 
bringing out any writing or typing which 
was not visible to the naked eye. En- 
largements of these infra-red photographs, 
together with all the cartons containing 
the original fragments, were produced in 
court. They showed clearly that the 
papers Ludwig had burned were full of 
military information. The fact that he 
had tried to destroy this evidence was 
proof of guilty knowledge, if further proof 
of that was needed. 

After leaving Yellowstone, Ludwig 
made a final effort to shake off his pur- 



THE CASE OF THE TEN NAZI SPIES 



15 



sucrs, who had caught up with hini again 
that same day at Butte, Montana. In 
Missoula, Montana, he expressed a suit- 
case and a portable typewriter to Seat- 
tle, left his car in a garage, and dashed 
off to catch a bus that was just leaving 
for the Coast. The Federal men, how- 
ever, were not to be so easily outdone. 
They had seen him board the bus. Now 
they took possession of his car and found 
the short-wave radio receiving set al- 
ready mentioned. Then they telegraphed 
ahead. On August 23rd an agent met 
Ludwig's bus at Cle Elum, Washington, 
and placed him under arrest. A little 
later the F.B.I, claimed his luggage at the 
express office in Seattle. After that it 
was a simple matter to round up his 
confederates in New York. 

Among the things found in Ludwig's 
luggage were his camera, together with 
the photographs previously described, 
and his equipment for secret writing — 
several bottles of pyramidon tablets, the 
packet of stained toothpicks, and the 
broken eyecup. There was also a copy 
of a book, Winged Warfare, by General 
H. H. Arnold, head of the Army Air 
Corps. The F.B.I, had unearthed in 
Froelich's locker at Fort Jay a copy of a 
letter he had written to the publishers of 
this book ordering two copies of it. The 
second copy was also accounted for. 
It had been found among the effects of 
the dead von der Osten. Ludwig of 
course was searched, and his pockets 
yielded an exceedingly interesting little 
black notebook full of jottings in his 
characteristic small hand. Some of his 
notes were in mixed numerical code and 
Gabelsberger shorthand. When the 
F.B.I.'s code expert translated these 
memoranda some of them proved to be 
the names and addresses of Ludwig's 
gang in New York. There were also the 
names and addresses in Spain, Portugal, 
Argentina, and Shanghai which had 
turned up so often on the intercepted 
letters. 

Ludwig was held in bail of $50,000, 
which he could not raise, and was lodged 
in the county jail at Spokane until ar- 



rangements could be made to bring him 
back to New York. Meanwhile he wa.s 
put under the watchful eye of a deputy 
sheriff who had been sworn in as a tem- 
porary U. S. marshal. This Spokane 
officer appeared at the trial and gave 
some very interesting testimony. Lud- 
wig said to him, he stated, that if the 
American Government valued him at 
S50,000, he was sure he would be worth 
an equal sum to the Germans. How 
would his jailer like to earn that much 
money? It would really be easy. Both 
of them could slip away together and 
escape to South America. There he 
promised that his deliverer would receive 
his reward. The deputy sheriff duly 
reported this to the F.B.I., who instructed 
him to play along with his prisoner and 
see what might come out of it. He then 
went back to Ludwig and said he had 
thought it over and believed he could ar- 
range things, but first he needed some 
guarantee that the $50,000 would really 
be paid him when they got to South 
America. Wasn't there somebody in 
this country who could make a deposit on 
account? Why, yes there was, said Lud- 
wig; and he instructed his jailer to make 
a long-distance call and ask for $200 "for 
Joe" from a certain man at a certain ad- 
dress in New York. ... It was the 
name and address of Paul Borchardt. 

VIII 

Borchardt's role in this conspiracy had 
been a very special one. He was no 
common garden variety of spy. All of 
Ludwig's other co-defendants at the trial 
testified that they had never seen Borch- 
ardt before he was arrested. But Lucy 
had seen him. In April, 1 941 , Borchardt 
had received from Germany a letter in 
double-talk commiserating with him 
on his neuralgia, and advising him to 
try "Joseph's remedy" for his pains. 
Shortly after this Ludwig instructed 
Lucy to take a small package containing 
pills for secret writing to 577 Isham 
Street in upper Manhattan, give it to a 
Mr. Paul Borchardt, and say that "Joe 



16 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



sent it." She did so,, and that was the 
only time Lucy saw him. 

On the \s-itness stand Borchardt ad- 
mitted that he had used p\Tamidon tab- 
lets for secret wTiting, but claimed that he 
had \NTitten in that fashion only to his 
wife and to an old friend,, and only about 
personal matters. His wife was still in 
Germany, am Ar\^an in good odor with 
Hitler's regime, while he was a refugee 
who had had to flee for his life because he 
was blighted with Jewish blood. Letters 
to Germany were opened by the authori- 
ties, so he had had to communicate 
secretly with his wife and his old friend in 
order to keep from compromising them. 

Borchardt spent a number of days on 
the stand telHng his own stor\\ He said 
he had been born into the Jewish faith,. 
but in 1908 he was converted to Chris- 
tianit\- and baptized a Lutheran. In 
1923. after he had married his wife who 
was a Cathohc. he himself had become a 
Catholic. He stated that he was stiQ a 
Catholic and dutifully obser\-ed the tenets 
of his faith. His family had been well to 
do and had educated him for a career in 
the German Army. He was an officer in 
the First \Vorld Wax. serving in Arabia 
2Lnd the Middle East. His specialrv,' was 
military- geography, and he had pub- 
lished a long list of scholarly monographs 
on subjects in this field. After the war 
he had the rank of major and taught 
military' geography in Munich. AH 
w^ent well with him until Hitier came to 
power,, when he was deprived of his 
teaching post and stripped of his rank in 
the army. Then, in November. 1938. 
the Jew Gr^mszpan assassinated Ernst 
vom Rath, first secretary of the German 
embassy in Paris. That was the signal 
for a general round-up of Jews in Ger- 
many. Borchardt said that because of 
his Jewish blood, and in spite of his past 
services to the Fatherland, he was sent to 
the concentration camp at Dachau. He 
hinted darkly of terrible experiences 
there, but was not specific — such things 
were too painful to talk about. Some- 
how he managed to obtain his release 
from Dachau. Then, with the con- 



nivance of his old friend, who had a post 
in the German Government, he escaped 
from his native land and found refuge in 
England. He identified his influential 
friend as R.. but refused to tell his last 
name. 

From England Borchardt had come to 
the United States in February', 1940, 
aided by a Cathohc commiuee in New 
York which had been set up to bring 
Catholic refugees out of Europe. In 
New York he had made few friends. 
True, he had met Ludwig. but not as 
Ludwig. One day. only a month after 
he arrived here, he had received a call 
from a man who said his name was 
Joseph Kessler. Then Kessler came to 
see him in the house where he lived in a 
rented room. They talked a while and 
Kessler gave him S250. Kessler was the 
man he now knew to be Ludwig. 
Borchardt said he did not ask who had 
sent the money: he assumed it had come 
from his wife in Germany. There was 
nothing strange in that. The families of 
refugees had to be careful and must use 
devious ways to keep in touch with thefr 
loved ones. Besides,, his friend R. had 
wrinen that someone would bring him 
money,, and Kessler had just arrived 
from Germany. 

He admitted that he had seen ''Joe 
Kessler' frequentiy after that first visit. 
This was natural. After all, he was a 
lonely man. spending most of his time 
cooped up in his room. There he had 
carried on his scholarly pursmts as weU as 
he could. Kessler seemed a pleasant 
and amusing fellow. They got to know 
each other weU. Kessler came to see 
him many times, and they would lunch 
or dine together at various restaurants. 
Kessler even invited him out to a summer 
cabin he had on Long Island. Their 
friendship, he maintained, was purely 
social. 

When he received the lener advising 
him to trv- ''Joseph's remedy'' for his 
neuralgia that had not seemed strange to 
him either. It was reasonable to sup- 
pose that his wife or his old friend R. had 
investigated a man to whom they had 



THE CASE OF THE TEN NAZI SPIES 



17 



been willing to entrust money. And if 
his wife or R. had somehow learned that 
Kcssler possessed materials for secret 
writing, he was only too glad to avail 
himself of the opportunity Kessler's gen- 
erosity had provided for communicating 
freely with his wife and his friend at 
last. Kessler had proved generous in 
other ways too, giving him presents at 
Christmas. 

Had Borchardt ever had occasion to 
visit the German consulate since he had 
been in New York? Yes, he said, he had 
had to go there to arrange a bothersome 
private matter. After his escape from 
Germany his wife had been forced by the 
Nazis to divorce him. He produced in 
court the divorce decree to prove it. In 
Germany this sort of thing was a frequent 
occurrence among Aryans married to 
Jews. He and his wife both understood 
the situation and bowed to it, although 
they had not let it affect their love for 
each other. After the divorce the Nazis 
tried to get hold of some property in 
which he had a part interest in Berlin. 
To save it, he had transferred his interest 
in the property to his wife. It had 
proved very complicated and had in- 
volved the signing of many legal docu- 
ments. This long-drawn-out business 
had compelled him to make a number 
of visits to the German consulate, but he 
had never gone there except to straighten 
out his private affairs. 

Since he had been in this country he 
maintained firmly that he had never 
done anything against the interests and 
welfare of the United States. If the man 
he had known as Kessler and who was 
now revealed to be Ludwig had actually 
been engaged in espionage, he (Bor- 
chardt) had never seen or suspected any- 
thing of the sort. He was the innocent 
victim of a harmless association. Why 
should he, of all people, help the Nazis? 
Were they not the very ones who had 
ruined him? So far had he been from 
wanting to harm the country which had 
given him asylum that, very soon after 
coming here, he had gone to Governor's 
Island and had offered his trained mind 



and services to the head of the U. S. Mil- 
itary Intelligence there. His offer had 
not, unfortunately, been accepted. 

Borchardt's story was moving. On 
cross-examination it also turned out to 
be very ingenious — but ncn ingenious 
enough. Mr. Correa had some ques- 
tions and went back over Borchardt's 
testimony bit by bit: 

"You say you were born into the 
Jewish faith?" 

"Yes." 

"Then it was brought out that in 1908 
you were baptized in the Protestant 
faith?" 

"Yes." 

"And then, still later, I think it was 
1923, you became a Catholic?" 

"Yes." 

" When did you become a Mohamme- 
dan, sir?" 

With that surprising question Mr. 
Correa handed Borchardt a paper in- 
scribed in Arabic and asked him if he 
had ever seen it before. With a wry 
smile he admitted that he had, for it was 
something the F.B.I, had found when 
they searched his room. Shown to the 
jury, together with a translation, it 
turned out to be a legal document dated 
1913 attesting that Paul Borchardt had 
appeared before an Arabian court and, 
renouncing all other faiths, now pro- 
fessed himself to believe only in Allah 
and his prophet, Mohammed; in wit- 
ness whereof the said Borchardt was re- 
ceived into the Mohammedan faith and 
given a Mohammedan name. 

In response to further questioning by 
Mr. Correa, other enlightening facts 
came out. Borchardt admitted that 
he had a cousin who is a high officer in 
the German Army, now in active service. 
It appeared, then, that the Jewish blood 
which Borchardt said had brought his 
own military career to an abrupt end 
had proved no handicap to his cousin. 
When asked about this, Borchardt ex- 
plained it by saying that Hitler had 
made his cousin "an honorary Aryan." 
Was Borchardt also "an honorary 
Aryan"? His story that his own military 



18 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



career had been ruined when Hider 
came to power was shaken by an admis- 
sion that he remained an intimate asso- 
ciate of General Haushofer down to 
1938. 

It was true that Borchardt had indeed 
been in Dachau — but only for sixteen 
days. Dachau is the place of horror to 
which men are sent and never heard 
from again; but in sixteen days Borchardt 
was out. He promptly received a Ger- 
man passport and went to England, as 
a stepping stone to the United States. 
We of the jury saw the passport. It was 
the kind that is issued to German Aryans. 
It did not bear the large official "J" that 
the Germans stamp on passports for 
Jews. This meant, as Borchardt ad- 
mitted, that he was not held up by Nazi 
officials at the border, as Jews usually 
are. His way, he said, had been made 
smooth by his mysterious friend R. 

The meaning of all this now became 
clear. In 1913, in preparation for the 
war that broke out the following year, 
the Germans had sent Borchardt into 
Arabia to do the sort of work that Law- 
rence did for the British there. To make 
himself acceptable to the Arabians and 
better able to accomplish his mission, 
Borchardt professed to become a Mo- 
hammedan. And now the Nazis were 
following the same pattern. In 1 940, in 
preparation for the war with the United 
States that was to begin the next year, 
the Germans sent their old experienced 
operative to New York. How could he 
be made most acceptable and effective 
here? The answer was obvious. He 
would have to come as a victim of Hitler. 
So they qualified him for that role. 
They sent him to Dachau for a few days, 
then speeded him on his way, a full- 
fledged "refugee." A divorce from his 
wife would lend further protective 
coloration, so that was arranged with the 
complete understanding of both parties 
and Borchardt got his decree to prove 
the "fact." The deception of the Catho- 
lic committee was cut from the same 
piece of cloth as all the rest. As for the 
mysterious money which Ludwig gave 



Borchardt, even Borchardt himself ad- 
mitted that it came from Germany. 
Perhaps Ludwig got it, as he got his own 
money, through the German consulate. 
As the trial went on it became increas- 
ingly evident that the German consulate 
had been deeply involved in the activi- 
ties of this spy ring. 

IX 

The government called as a witness a 
Mr. Walter Morrissey. There was no 
clue to explain to the jury his connection 
with the case. 

He was a lean American type, a work- 
ing man by his appearance, and a little 
uncomfortable in his best Sunday clothes. 
But if he felt any initial embarrassment 
at being the center of all eyes in the 
courtroom, he quickly got over it. He 
identified himself as a boiler-room engi- 
neer in the Whitehall Building at 17 
Battery Place, where the German con- 
sulate had had its offices. 

In March, 1941, Mr. Morrissey testi- 
fied, members of the consulate staff came 
to him to arrange for burning some pa- 
pers. He agreed to take care of it and 
started a fire in an auxiliary boiler for 
this purpose. The Germans brought 
down great masses of papers tied up in 
bundles. He said he cut the cords and 
examined each bundle to make sure it 
did not contain a bomb. There had 
been one bomb explosion in the building, 
so he was taking no chances. Then he 
tossed the papers into the furnace. 
When all the bundles had been thus 
disposed of, the Germans went back to 
their offices. Mr. Morrissey then got 
busy. He had been careful to throw 
the bundles into the furnace in such a 
way that they had cut off the draft and 
almost smothered the fire. Now he 
raked out the papers. Those on the 
outside of the heap had been burned or 
charred, but the solid mass inside had 
hardly been damaged. After putting 
them into a large net bag or "onion 
sack," he telephoned the F.B.I, that he 
had something which he thought would 



THE CASE OF THE TEN NAZI SPIES 



19 



interest them. Two agents drove down 
and took the bag away in their car. 

Mr. Gorrea asked the witness whether 
it had been his own idea to do what he 
did. Mr. Morrissey rephed: "Yes sir; I 
took it upon myself as an American." 

Note that this incident occurred during 
the same month as that other voluntary 
action by a good citizen — the call to the 
police made by the manager of the 
Hotel Taft the night of von der Osten's 
accident. 

Among the papers thus saved from 
destruction was one introduced in evi- 
dence. It was a radiogram in cipher 
sent by the official German radio station 
in Berlin to the New York consulate. 
Decoded by the F.B.I, expert and then 
translated from the German, it in- 
structed the consulate to notify Paul 
Borchardt to burn a letter he would 
receive from his friend R. dated Febru- 
ary 20, 1941. The radiogram was dated 
February 17, 194V. The code expert 
explained that the German word, ^^bren- 
nen,'' which he had translated "burn," 
could equally well be translated "scorch" 
or "singe" or "heat." 

Borchardt had told an elaborate story 
to explain that his visits to the consulate 
had never been official, that they had 
been concerned only with personal and 
private business. "Private" was right 
enough . With typical thoroughness some- 
one in the consulate had written in 
German across the bottom of the radio- 
gram that Borchardt had been "sum- 
moned" to come in on the date the mes- 
sage had been received, and the consulate 
thought that the evidence had been 
consumed in the furnace. 

Borchardt had refused to identify his 
mysterious friend R. except to say that 
he was an official in the German Gov- 
ernment whom he had known for years. 
The Nazis would do something terrible 
to R., he said, if they found out who he 
was and learned of his connection with a 
refugee from Dachau. Yet in this radio- 
gram the German Government was not 
only aware of the connection between 
them, but even knew that R. was going 



to write Borchardt a letter three days 
hcfcjrc he did write it. And the C;f!rrnan 
Government was so concerned about the 
safety of its "refugee" that it was either 
telling him about an urgent message in 
secret writing wliich would be made 
legible by scorching or singeing, or else — 
and more likely — it was warning him to 
burn a letter which would be too danger- 
ous for him to keep in his possession. 
Actually, he did destroy it. 

From this point on let us say no more 
about the German Government. It will 
be easier and simpler to adopt Bor- 
chardt's familiar term and just call it R. 
Actually this mysterious R. stood for 
something very special in the German 
hierarchy. R. was most certainly an 
officer of top rank in the German Army. 
In the same vv^ay we can think of 
"Robert," the code name by which 
Ludwig referred to Borchardt himself, as 
an abbreviation for "German Army's 
man," or member of the German Mili- 
tary Intelligence — for that is what Bor- 
chardt was proved to be. 

The relationship between Ludwig and 
Borchardt was a very curious one. They 
schemed together for a common cause, 
helping each other when they could. 
At the same time each had his own work 
cut out for him. Ludwig, the Gestapo 
agent, had a job of routine espionage to 
do. Borchardt, the old army man, was 
on a special mission — to worm himself 
into the U. S. Military Intelligence. 
When Borchardt offered his services at 
Governor's Island he was told neither 
yes nor no, but was kept dangling in 
hope. Borchardt discussed the problem 
with Ludwig. One of Ludwig's inter- 
cepted letters reported that "Robert has 
connections with our competitors, who 
offered him a position, and I told him to 
take any decent job he could get." 
Naturally. For if Borchardt had suc- 
ceeded he would have been more useful 
to Germany than ten Ludwigs. 

Perhaps this knowledge made Ludwig 
jealous. Perhaps on Borchardt's side 
there was something of the military man's 
basic contempt for the Gestapo. What- 



20 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



ever it was, the two men didn't really 
like each other. There was an inter- 
cepted letter from Ludwig to Himmler 
belittling Borchardt's abilities and com- 
plaining that Borchardt was no longer 
co-operating with him as fully as he 
should. To complete the picture, Mr. 
Correa asked Borchardt whether he had 
ever written to his friend R. about 
Ludwig. Borchardt said positively and 
repeatedly that he had done so only once, 
in April, when he had told R. about 
getting materials for secret writing from 
Ludwig. Very dramatically Mr. Correa 
then produced an intercepted letter 
which had been withheld up to that 
moment. It was dated July 17, 1941, 
from Borchardt to R., and was about 
Ludwig. Borchardt had also testified 
about other correspondence with his wife 
in which Ludwig was discussed in the 
most unflattering and contemptuous 
terms. Thus Borchardt was caught in a 
flagrant and repeated lie, and both 
spies were also caught spying on each 
other. 

If there could be any doubt in any- 
body's mind about the relative impor- 
tance of the two spies, the German 
Army had none. Ludwig was certainly 
acting under instructions from higher 
up when he assumed the name of "Joe 
Kessler" in all his dealings with Bor- 
chardt. There was a calculated reason 
for it. If Ludwig got in trouble, Bor- 
chardt could say he didn't know him 
and would not be involved in Ludwig's 
downfall. So too Borchardt was ob- 
viously under orders not to get mixed 
up with Ludwig's helpers, who were 
mere volunteers and therefore not wholly 
trustworthy. And he kept clear of 
them, except for his one meeting with 
Lucy Boehmler. 

X 

When Ludwig reported to the Gestapo 
that the F.B.I. was after him, strange 
things began to happen. Borchardt re- 
ceived a message in double-talk from his 
faithful R. It said that Borchardt had 
better take care of his health and stop 



running round with young girls like 
Josefa. In plain English: "Ludwig is 
hot. Keep away from him." 

To this Borchardt replied reassuringly 
in kind. Ludwig was then in hiding at 
Lutherland, and Borchardt wrote the 
letter to R. which he had denied until he 
was confronted with it. It said, in part: 
"As for my girl friend Josefa. I have 
slowly but certainly drawn myself away 
from her. . . . Prostate enlargement 
would not bring about a second spring. 
... I told her entirely openly that 
nothing could be said of a marriage. 
. . . She understood this quite well, 
gave me her new address, and disap- 
peared." 

Borchardt was as good as his word. 
His landlady testified that in June, after 
the Brooklyn spies were arrested, Bor- 
chardt had come to her and said that if 
Mr. Kessler called at the house or tele- 
phoned again she was to tell him that 
Mr. Borchardt was not in. She said 
that Mr. Borchardt had been a quiet 
gentleman, staying in his room and 
writing most of the time. When she 
cleaned the room she had noticed there 
were always lots of newspaper clippings 
and maps on the table. After Ludwig 
was clearly "hot," Borchardt destroyed 
his maps. He admitted it. He insisted 
of course that they had been quite 
harmless. He was a geographer, and 
what is a geographer without maps? 
He had destroyed them, he said, only 
because he feared they might be mis- 
understood. Mr. Correa assured him 
that the F.B.I, would have understood 
them perfectly. 

Why didn't Borchardt also destroy the 
Arabian document? That seems strange 
at first glance, yet to Borchardt it was 
logical to keep it. The Mohammedan 
business had happened a long time ago; 
it had no apparent connection with his 
mission in America; and he clung to the 
document as a scholarly German clings 
to titles and past honors and loves to be 
called "Herr Doktor." 

But to go back to his landlady: She 
testified that Borchardt came to her a 



THE CASE OF THE TEN NAZI SPIES 



21 



second tiinc, in August, and said it was 
too bad about poor Mr. Kcsslcr — he had 
been killed in an automobile accident. 
Borchardt showed her a newspaper 
clipping about an accident, and with it a 
photograph of the man who had been 
killed, and Mr. Borchardt said it was 
Mr. Kessler's picture. But it was not 
Mr. Kessler's picture. Mr. Kessler had 
come to her house many times, she 
knew his face well, and it didn't even 
look like him. She couldn't imagine why 
Mr. Borchardt had shown her that 
picture. 

But the reason was now clear. At 
that time Ludwig was in full flight from 
the F.B.I, and was going to be caught. 
Borchardt wanted to plant the seeds of 
doubt and confusion in the mind of his 
landlady, whose intelligence he under- 
estimated, so that she might hesitate to 
identify Ludwig if she were called on to 
do so. It was a crude trick and it 
didn't work. There in the crowded 
courtroom she picked out Mr. Kessler. 
He was Ludwig all right. 

The jury, after five weeks of listening 
to the evidence, did not take long to 
bring in its verdict of guilty against all 
the defendants. Later the spies were 
brought before Judge Goddard in two 
separate groups to receive sentence. 
Lucy Boehmler was given the lightest 



sentence in consideration for her vohin- 
tary help to the government — five years 
in Federal prison. Schroctter, the cap- 
tain of the fishing boat who had pleaded 
guilty but refused to give information or 
testify against his fellow-spies, received 
double that. (Later, within a few days 
of his arrival at the Federal prison in 
Atlanta, Schroetter committed suicide 
by slashing his wrists and hanging him- 
self with a sheet.) 

The seven remaining spies were sen- 
tenced on a different day. Schlosser 
got twelve years. Helen Mayer, Muel- 
ler, and Pagel were sentenced to fifteen 
years each. Borchardt, Ludwig, and 
Froelich were given the maximum 
penalty allowed by the law — twenty 
years each. 

A New York newspaper reported the 
sentencing of these seven under the head- 
line: "Lucky Spies Get 117 Years." 
And why were they lucky? Because, 
although they had caused the sinking 
of ships and done everything possible 
to help Germany and Japan and to in- 
jure the United States, they had been 
arrested and their spying careers had 
been ended before Japan and Germany 
declared war on us; and so, because of 
this legalistic distinction without a dif- 
ference, they had escaped the death 
penalty. 




JEWS, ANTI-SEMITES, AND TYRANTS 



BY STANLEY HIGH 



THAT the Jew is on the spot is no news 
for the Gentile and no novelty for the 
Jew. He has been more often on than 
off the spot ever since the reign of Justin- 
ian the First in the sixth Christian cen- 
tury. Since the 1870's, when modern 
anti-Semitism took hold in Germany and 
Austria, he has been there almost contin- 
uously. Hitler further transfixed him. 

Neither, by this time, should it be news 
that the spot the Jew is on is to some con- 
siderable extent of his own making. If 
it were not of his own making he could 
escape it. But the Jews do not escape it. 
No Jew escapes it. The harder he tries 
the more he stays where he is. That has 
been true for as far back as we know any- 
thing about him. It was never truer 
than, with anti-Semitism waxing, it is 
to-day. 

But to-day there is this difference. 
To-day the effort of the Jew to shed his 
unshakeable Jewishness or to escape its 
consequences is not only fruitless. It is 
unnecessary and it may be disastrous. 
For the Jew is being attacked to-day not 
merely for what he is accused of being, 
but also for what he actually is. That 
may be the most promising thing that has 
happened to him since the Dispersion. 

For in the present crisis the issues in- 
volved in what the Jew has always repre- 
sented have turned up at the top of the 
world's docket. The Jew is on the spot. 
For him it is the same spot. But this 
time he has company. He has the con- 
siderable company of all those who, like 
him, love freedom and hate tyranny; who 
desire justice and hate exploitation; who 



believe mankind can build a world com- 
munity that is fit for free men to live in; 
and who are now fighting because they 
will not take a dictator's "No" for an 
answer. 

Thus for the first time on so vast and 
potentially conclusive a scale the Jew can 
be what he always has been — with trum- 
pets and banners. This may not deliver 
him forthwith from all his troubles. But 
it will fix their source and nature, iden- 
tify his enemies, join him to his friends, 
and make his Jewish cause something 
bigger and more important than Judaism 
— as in essence it has always been. In 
such a case for freedom-minded men the 
yellow badge with which anti-Semites 
mark the Jew will be no stigma but a 
ribbon of honor. 

Meanwhile, on the old, inconclusive 
level, the debate goes on. To every 
argument against the Jew the Jews have 
answers. They are pat, factual, and 
conclusive. Some of them are semi- 
official. A few, recently, have been pre- 
pared by peripheral Jews who have put 
disarming emphasis on the fact that 
though they are in the community of 
Semites they are not of it. All told, these 
considerable materials ought to do. But 
they don't. They are answers; but not 
the answer. Anti-Semitism, which was 
never more widespread in the United 
States than during the past five years, has 
not been diminished by them. 

Save for the self-satisfaction which may 
accrue, it is not particularly convincing 
to ascribe the present state of affairs — as 



jKWs, Ai\ ri-si:Mri Ks, and j yrams 



23 



some Jews do to cont^mital Cciitilc 
perversity. It is no apology lor the per- 
versions to which Gentile flesh is heir to 
say that this particular one is too higlily 
specialized and has for too long survived 
wliile other selective animosities have had 
their day and disappeared to be thus 
summarily checked off against the streak 
of evil which, admittedly, is in us. 

Nor, unhappily, can the guilt be 
wholly fixed on Hitler. To try to fix it 
wholly there is to ignore too long a past. 
In regard to the Jews, as in divers other 
matters which we are now engaged to 
settle. Hitler is the evil instrument of evil 
forces which — though he has employed, 
enlarged, and buttressed them — he did 
not create. The going will be tougher 
for the Jews if Hitler wins. One gathers 
from current anti-Semitic literature that 
our all-out anti-Semites hope that Hitler 
will win. But their cause is far from lost 
if he does not. They aim to turn war 
weariness, disillusionment, and suffering 
to sufficient anti-Semitic account to make 
the going tougher anyway. 

If this is true the Jew should know by 
now that the cause lies not simply in the 
venom of his enemies but also in himself 
— not any current self, but the ancient 
and, for Jew and Gentile alike, the un- 
shakable self of Judaism. For the woe 
of the Jews is the Jew — the unmistak- 
able, unchanging, miraculously eternal 
Jew. He, more than any other of the 
races of man, is not only his own burden 
bearer, but his own burden. 

Intuitively or otherwise, the Jews' op- 
pressors have often known this better 
than the Jews. Basic, long-run anti- 
Semitism, as distinguished from the hit- 
and-run slanders by which the mob is 
started, imputes little to the Jew that is 
not Jewish. The world being what it 
habitually has been, and the Jew being 
what he always is, it was inevitable that 
the two — through so many centuries — 
should have been afoul of each other. 

But this did not happen because of the 
reasons ordinarily assigned. The rea- 
sons ordinarily assigned vary in time and 
place. Under the Inquisition the Jew 



was accused of pnjfaning the mass and 
was manhandled tiicrcfor. In nine- 
teenth-century Russia the ritual murder 
accusation was the pretext. In western 
I^uropc, innnediately after the First 
World War, publication of the soon ex- 
ploded but still current Protocols oj the 
Elders oJ ^ion served the purpose. Hit- 
ler's anti-Semitism has had numerous 
strings to it chief of them being the 
Jewish-Bolshevist allegation. 

Currently in the United States the 
most articulate anti-Semites are the 
after-dinner kind. They dislike the Jews 
in varying degrees for various reasons. 
Apart from the way they feel, there may 
be some basis for what they say. 

Some Jews are undeniably loud. 
They do seem to flock together — which 
makes them louder. Real estate opera- 
tors in my town tell me that, for a number 
of allegedly good reasons, real estate 
values would suffer if the Jew Vv^ere let in 
— which, in so far as the prevailing mores 
can prevent it, they are not. Some Jews 
push and elbow. Toward redcaps, bell- 
boys, clerks, nurses, and others w^ho 
serve them there is a widespread belief 
that some of them are not very consider- 
ate. I have business friends who insist 
that on the commercial side some of 
them bear close watching. 

That these and other faults may also be 
Gentile faults is true. But it is irrelevant. 
Except in the eschatological sense, the 
Gentile is not up for examination. What- 
ever the precise ratio of shortcoming 
between Jew and Gentile, the Jew might 
do better to acknowledge something more 
than his just share, take what remedial 
measures he can, and move on to more 
important business. 

The more important business is basic 
anti-Semitism — which this catalogue of 
phony crimes and minor irritations de- 
cidedly is not. If it were, no Gentile 
would be particularly disturbed and no 
Jew would need to be. In that case it 
could be put up with until education and 
assimilation got in their ameliorative 
work and the phenomena disappeared 
beneath the ensuing smoothness. 



24 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



No — the Jew has not been hounded for 
the better part of the past 'thirteen cen- 
turies because of fiction- about ritual 
murders or because he shoves in the sub- 
ways or J even, because he ' ' killed Christ " — 
an assertion to which Jews are inclined to 
give fantastic overemphasis. He has not 
been hounded for these reasons both be- 
cause these reasons have not mattered 
that much for that long, and because he 
has often been hounded in times and 
places where they did not matter at all. 

I have not been able to find that a lack 
of social graces or too much economic 
acumen figured in the Inquisition. Rit- 
ual murders — or religious accusations of 
any other kind — were no important part 
of the anti-Semitism that flourished in 
the first decade of this century in France; 
and are no part whatever of the anti- 
Semitism of Nazi Germany. I have seen 
painstaking studies of anti-Semitism in 
the United States and have conducted 
one myself. I have yet to see any evi- 
dence that the story of Christ's crucifixion 
has had any considerable effect on its rise 
or that the efforts now under way to 
modify that story in the interest of inter- 
religious harmony will cause its appreci- 
able decline. 

These are not anti-Semitism. These 
are its fronts. The fronts change. The 
thing that age-in, age-out has remained 
unchanging is not the pretexts, but the 
anti-Semitism. That makes it one of 
the most amazing phenomena in the his- 
tory of human relationships. It is much 
too amazing and unique to be dismissed 
by seasonal explanations drawn from the 
headlines. The fact that lies back of the 
changing headlines and back of all the 
changing fronts and pretexts is that the 
basic reasons for anti-Semitism have 
never changed. 

II 

Anti-Semitism is a recurring form of 
reaction against the struggle of Western 
man for religious, political, and economic 
emancipation. The Jew has been hated 
because the sources of that struggle are in 
large part Jewish; because inspiration 



from Jewish sources has been one of the 
chief things that have kept it going; and 
because, even when the Jews themselves 
have tried to quit the fight, they contin- 
ued to stand as its ubiquitous, distinguish- 
able and, therefore, disturbing symbol. 

That is why Jewish persecutions have 
always been the handmaidens of tyranny. 
Tyrannies, to be sure, are chronically in- 
tolerant. But the subjects of their intol- 
erance vary with their dangers and 
ambitions. Toward the Jew however 
the intolerance of tyranny is unrelieved. 
With him — if tyranny gets its hands on 
him — it is always the same, woeful story. 
He is never made an exception. 

That was true in the period when the 
absolutism involved was that of the 
Church. Freedom, then, went by the 
name of heresy. Heresy was a failure to 
submit to the prevailing tyranny — which 
happened to be ecclesiastical. The Jews, 
ipso facto, were heretics and, with varying 
degrees of harshness, they were treated 
accordingly. With rare exceptions, this 
is the only way they were treated. From 
the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, 
in particular, they were expelled, hounded, 
and massacred across the face of Europe. 
In the sixteenth century they were offi- 
cially consigned to the ghetto by the 
Papacy. 

There was no considerable break in 
this routine of persecution until the 
Church's absolutism in secular aff*airs 
was loosened. In England it was the 
liberalizing influence of Cromwell in the 
mid-seventeenth century that ushered in 
an era of relative Jewish tranquillity. 
Throughout most of Europe the Jewish 
lot did not much improve until the lib- 
erating events of the late eighteenth 
century. 

Since then — and particularly since the 
rise of modern anti-Semitism in the 
1870's — anti-Jewish feeling and persecu- 
tion of the Jews have risen and fallen 
exactly as the struggle for religious, 
political, and economic emancipation 
has waxed and waned. In the past 
seventy years anti-Semitism has been the 
indispensable instrument of the forces of 



JEWS, ANTI-SEMITES, AND lYRANTS 



25 



reaction. It has served them coming 
and going: ofTensively as a way to get 
power; defensively, as a way to keep it. 

It revived in Germany, not as is some- 
times alleged as a result of the 1 873 finan- 
cial collapse, but as a product of the effort 
of the aristocracy, the agrarian capital- 
ists, and the reactionary clericals to stem 
the tide of democracy which — spurred by 
the spreading influence of the Manches- 
ter school of liberalism — threatened to 
sweep the country. Its roots in Austria 
and Hungary were of exactly the same 
ultra-nationalist, ultra-reactionary sort. 

In Russia at that time anti-Semitism 
was still the official policy of the govern- 
ment. Jews were confined to ghettos 
and treated as aliens. But liberalism 
filtered into Russia from western Europe 
and — with the same ungodly combina- 
tion back of it — a savage offensive was 
launched against the Jews. 

A pogrom broke out in western Russia 
on Easter eve, 1881. The mob violence 
that followed was bloodier than anything 
which had been visited on the Jews since 
the Black Death massacres in the four- 
teenth century. As usual, the means by 
which the mobs were incited were in- 
cendiary fabrications wholly unconnected 
with the real issues or the real parties 
involved. On the side of economic re- 
action this outbreak was engineered by 
Russia's land-owning, classes — incensed 
and frightened by the recent emancipa- 
tion of the serfs. On the side of political 
reaction it was the handiwork of the 
Slavophils — who had drunk of Hegel's 
disruptive philosophy of race superiority 
and were alarmed at the signs and por- 
tents that the beginnings of economic 
freedom would lead to greater political 
freedom. 

There was another resurgence of vio- 
lent anti-Semitism in Russia at the end of 
the century. It was the same story. 
Constitutional reform was on the way. 
The rapidly increasing industrial prole- 
tariat was getting dangerously articulate. 
In all of this, anti-Semitism served as 
cover for an anti-democratic counter- 
offensive. 



In Rumania where the Jews rernainrd 
under oliicial discriminatory disabilitirs 
until 1919 — modern anti-Semitism was 
wholly the creation of nationalist politi- 
cians. As an over-all screen for their 
opposition to democracy, they preached 
a hodge-podge gospel of German deriva- 
tion designed to prove that government 
should be exclusively in the hands of 
indigenous, Rumanian "Christians." 

In France modern anti-Semitism did 
not seriously flourish until the 1880's. It 
reached its culmination in the Dreyfus 
case in 1894 and thereafter. It was 
fashioned and foisted on the country by 
the Church, enraged at the free-church 
policy of the Republic; by the closely al- 
lied royalists, who wanted a restoration; 
and by the army, which had become a 
catch-all for the nation's reactionaries. 

After the First World War anti-Semitism 
was first turned to large-scale account by 
Adolf Hitler. But its revival antedates 
him. The fabricated Protocols oj the 
Elders of ^ion — purporting to prove that 
the Jews are party to a vast conspiracy to 
rule the world — were rescued from Rus- 
sian oblivion in 1919 and published in 
Germany. This "revelation" became 
thereafter the law and the prophets for 
that increasing company of Europeans 
who were frightened out of their reaction- 
ary wits at the prospect of what the 
Russian Revolution might do to their 
capitalistic status quo. 

There is no record in Hitler's shady 
Austrian youth that any such prospect as 
this disturbed him. In fact there is a 
good deal of evidence that his youthful 
anti-Semitism was a retroactive product 
of the fecund imagination of his maturity. 
At any rate, he was — and is — anti- 
Semitic for precisely the same reasons as 
were his political and economic forbears 
and colleagues. 

"My Jews," he said to Rauschning, 
"are a valuable hostage given to me by 
the democracies. Anti-Semitic propa- 
ganda in all countries is an almost indis- 
pensable medium for the extension of our 
political campaign. You will see how 
little time we shall need in order to upset 



26 



HARPER\S MAGAZINE 



the idea.'? and the criteria of the whole 
world, simply and purely* by attacking 
Judaism." 

What flitler boasted he would do he 
almost did. Anti-Semitisin, in his dis- 
ea.^ed wake, has become — in the past ten 
years — an international epidemic. Its 
symptoms, as I have pointed out, arc 
various. But the natiorc of the disease 
and its source are everywhere the same. 

In Spain and Latin America anti-Sem- 
itism is the work of the die-hard, anti- 
democratic Falange party. In France — 
before 1939 — it flourished in the upper- 
bracket salons of the appeasers and got to 
the streets in such anti-Republican out- 
fits as the Croix de Feu. Oswald Mosley's 
clock-reversing Black wShirts — most of 
whom, unlike their American kinsmen, 
are now interned — were the out-in-front 
anti-Semites of pre-war Britain. But 
there, as in France, potent aid and com- 
fort for these brawlers were derived from 
certain sections of the jittery but more 
prudent aristocracy. 

Anti-Semitism in the United States Is 
of the same piece. From Father Cough- 
lin, the Ku-Klux Klan, and the Christian 
Front on up in the social scale to the long 
bars of our "best" clubs, the barest 
scratching of an economic or political re- 
actionary almost unfailingly produces an 
anti-Semite. The same thing works al- 
most as well in reverse. Apart from 
complaints against the Jew v/hich arise 
from characteristics which — as with the 
Gentile — time and tenderness will heal, 
it can be said that anti-Sernitism of the 
all-out German variety does not exist in 
the United States — any more than it 
exists anywhere else — except as it grows 
out of the ambitions and the fears of those 
who believe we have gone too far, and 
must, at all costs, be prevented from 
going farther along the road of religious, 
political, and economic emancipation. 

It is the result of no quirk or aberration 
that the Jew is thus pounced upon. The 
enemies of freedom have understood, 
generally better than its friends, just 
what has to be beaten and whom, if the 
clock is to be turned back. They hate 



the Jew beca'i-'e tn his hastorf and has 
loyalties, the Jew stands for and k tlie 
personificalkm of everything that tbey 
stand against; and becanse, in his inannfT 
of life and, more recently^ his leadershq>, 
the Jew has ccmtributed far more than Iris 
proportionate diare to thooe emancqiat- 
ing enterprises which promise to make 
the woHd safe for hreedoou 



III 

The heaviest responsibility that the 
Jew has to bear is his gift to the world of 
the Old and New Testaments, the Proph- 
ets and Jesus. Encompassed in those 
gifts are the form, and substance, :he life 
and breath of xhft struggle for freedom 
which the powers of the world have most 
desperately sought to suppress. 

Guttersnipes, who ser^/e an anti-Semitic 
purpose without knowing what it is al: 
about, may call the Jews '•Christ-killers.'' 
But authentic anti-Semites — with their 
established order to look out for — hate 
the Jews for no such reason. They hate 
the Jews not because they killed Christ, 
but because they produced Him, The>' 
know what short shrift can be made of 
their scheme of things if the succession of 
Jewish principles and prophets in which 
Jesus stands takes hold and gets going. 

The area marked out by those princi- 
ples and prophets is history's most fought 
over moral terrain. It extends from the 
Grod who cursed Cain for shrugging off 
his brother's blood to Moses, whose fame 
rests on his leadership of a slave rebellion: 
and Elijah, dubbed by the King a 
"troubler of Israel'*; and Amos, who 
spoke uncomfortably at Bethel; and 
Isaiah, an aristocrat who walked with 
the proletariat; and the Prophet of the 
New Testament who, in the words of the 
High Priest, "stirs up the people" and, 
with His own words, has been stirring 
them up ever since. 

It is true that, by diligent search 
through the world's wisdom literature, 
much of what these Jews said can be 
found elsewhere. But nowhere else 
where they have been said have they laid 



JEWS, ANTI-SEMI J KS, AND TYRANTS 



27 



such fighting hold on mankind. More 
amazing even than our failure to make 
them good has been our inability to es- 
cape them. The need to escape them 
has been in every Cliristian century tlie 
first necessity of the tyrant. For that 
necessity the Jew, more uniformly than 
anyone else, has had to suffer. 

He has had to suiTcr not because he was 
more militant or more Christian than the 
Christian, but because, until Hitler made 
the plunge, frontal attacks on Christian- 
ity have generally been held to be im- 
prudent strategy; because Christianity, 
as currently organized, was frequently 
too valuable an instrument of tyranny or 
reaction to be blunted; and because to hit 
the Jew was a way to hit at the substance 
of Christianity without destroying the 
advantages that might accrue from its 
form. 

But historically, the Jew did more than 
give to the world something which large 
segments of it have ever since wanted to 
get rid of. He went on from there and, 
by his loyalties and manner of life, and in 
defiance of the powers that were trying to 
shake him, set up a society of his own 
based on the precepts and principles they 
were trying to shake. 

It cannot be said that the Jewish 
character and the nature of the Jewish 
community are entirely a result of the dil- 
igence with which the Jew has worked at 
his religion. Too many Jews for too long 
have not worked at it at all and too many 
other influences have been at work. But 
it is a remarkable fact that these extra- 
religious influences have frequently served 
to accentuate the very qualities which 
were most emphasized in the Jew's relig- 
ion, and most abhorred by the forces of 
Gentile reaction. 

Tyranny assumes that there is a right 
and a wrong side of the tracks and no 
bridges. Whether his field of operation 
is religion, politics, economics or all three, 
a good deal of a tyrant's time is consumed 
in seeing to it that no bridges are built. 
The Jewish religion originated — in the 
view of the contemporary world — on the 
other side of the tracks. For most of the 



time since by the stigma the Jews have 
been made to bear, by the ghettos in 
which they have liv(!d, by the outlawing 
and persecutions they have sufl'ercd — it 
has stayed there. 

But the Jews have not stayed there. 
Given half a chance — and half a chance is 
more than they were usually given — they 
have built their own bridges and crossed 
the tracks. That doubled their ofTcnsc, 
for, from having believed that the disaljil- 
ities imposed by the world were unjust, 
they have gone ahead against fearful odds 
and proved that they were untrue. As a 
result of what they have achieved, there 
is more in Jewish history to hearten the 
underdog than in any other segment of 
human experience. 

Moreover, in the political area, tyr- 
anny — ancient and modern — has been 
narrowly nationalist. Its walls have 
been bounded on all sides by barbarians, 
or in the more recent streamlined version 
by those who are worthy only "to stew in 
their own juice." All manner of pre- 
texts have been used through the ages to 
give force to this exclusiveness. Latterly 
Hegel, Nietzsche, and Rosenberg have 
given it what some people like to call 
philosophical sanction. In any event, it 
is a doctrine which has been of immeas- 
urable use to those who had ideas of con- 
quest, or who, having conquered, desired 
to keep out infiltrating influences which 
might spoil the fruits thereof. 

But since the Dispersion the mind and 
spirit of the Jew have never been thus 
corralled. Despite the tribalism of much 
of the pre-Christian history of Judaism, it 
was not a part of the teaching of his 
prophets that they should be. "Blessed 
be Egypt my people," said the supra- 
national God of Isaiah, "and Assyria the 
work of my hands and Israel mine 
inheritance." 

This internationalism the Jew has 
never been able to escape — partly be- 
cause it was a part of what he believed, 
and partly as a consequence of the way in 
which, since the Dispersion, he has been 
treated. His line has gone out into all 
the earth. Across all manner of bitter 



28 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



boundaries and at great peril and sacri- 
fice, he has been his brother's keeper. 
He has been — at one an*^ the same time 
— a loyal member of both a national 
and an international community. Hitler 
and his kind know what they are up 
against. They know that some little 
fire for the crusade for that larger and 
more inclusive society of which men 
have dreamed is bound to be kept burn- 
ing so long as there are any Jews about. 
For keeping it alive — at their own hearths 
in their own ghettos — the Jews have 
suffered. 

They have suffered, for the most part, 
unresistingly. That fact also belongs in 
their "indictment." The God of the 
world in which the Jews lived has most of 
the time been on the side of the heaviest 
battalions. It was part of the prevailing 
philosophy of force to keep Him there. 
But the Jews never had any battalions. 
In fact they got along — and miraculously 
well — by the exercise of those non-vio- 
lent virtues which, so it suited the world 
to maintain, could best be got along 
without. That put them afoul of the 
princes of the established order at an- 
other point. 

It is not to be wondered at that from 
an ancient schooling of such a sort the 
Jew emerged into the modern and, until 
recently, freer world as a champion for 
the rights he had always believed in, yet 
never had. I do not like the philosophy 
of Karl Marx. Neither do most of the 
Jews. But there is something eminently 
fitting in the fact that a Jew — unable, 
despite Gentile upbringing, to shake his 
Jewishness — should have given so great 
a lift to the proletarian upsurge in the 
modern world. 

The reactionary attack on the Jews in 
the late nineteenth century in Europe 
was no case of mistaken identity. The 
Jews were in the forefront of the liberat- 
ing movement that swept Germany after 
1870. They had a large hand in the rise 
of democratic thought in Austria and 
Hungary. They were out ahead in the 
prolonged effort for constitutional reform 
in Russia. Out of all proportion to their 



numbers, they helped to establish the 
trade-union movement throughout Eu- 
rope; they were involved in every effort 
to extend political freedom, and, after the 
First World War and particularly in 
Germany, were invariably, aggressively, 
and with great intellectual effectiveness 
on the side of democracy. 

Nor have the anti-Semitic reactionaries 
in the United States been missing the 
target in the nearly ten years in which, 
with increasing zeal and venom, they 
have been packaging the Jews and the 
Roosevelt reforms. There is no good 
purpose served — in fact the purpose 
served is a very bad one — by trying to 
disprove that most Jews have been for the 
New Deal, and that a large number of 
them have had an important part in it. 

The majority of Jews have been over- 
whelmingly for the New Deal just as they 
have been for other progressive move- 
ments. They have been for it because — 
as a consequence of what they have be- 
lieved and experienced — the New Deal, 
for all its faults, appeared to be another 
chapter in what they have always been for. 
They may have been wrong. Perhaps 
the New Deal will turn out to deserve no 
place in the push toward greater freedom. 
But the Jews have been there because 
they have thought it deserved it and — 
in such a case — they could not be any- 
where else. 

Neither is there any profit in attempt- 
ing to discount the charge that, for all 
they were worth and with all the strength 
they could muster, the Jews of the United 
States were against Hitler and for the 
democracies in this war long before the 
United States got into it. They were. 
They would have been for the democra- 
cies even though there were no Jewish 
score to settle with the Nazis. They 
would have been for the democracies be- 
cause, by all the accounts of what they 
had to say on similar issues, that is where 
their own prophets would have been, and 
where, by that devotion to freedom 
which has been flogged and pounded into 
them for thirteen Christian centuries, the 
Jews themselves want the world to be. 



HEADQUARTERS 



29 



It is not likely that anti-Semitism will 
entirely disappear from the world this 
side of the millennium. But thanks to the 
age-old consistency of the Jews and to the 
clarifying openness of their modern ene- 
mies, the issues involved in anti-Semitism, 
its rise and fall, are now too plain to be 
missed. Until that far off, divine event 
when the last fight for freedom is won, the 
Jew will probably continue to bear the 
brunt of the hatred of all those who aim 
to put a ceiling to the things that man 
aspires for and sets out to be. 

To-day, however, the Jew has a com- 
fortingly large legion of fellow-travelers. 
They are not Jews. They are Gentiles 
who are going his way. Their number 
includes those Christians who believe in 
the Christ of compassion and brotherly 



love and who refuse to wash their hands, 
Pilate-wise, of the meaning of that Christ 
for this world. It includes all of us, of 
whatever race or creed, who believe that 
democracy without mutual tolerance and 
equal opportunity and active good will is 
not democracy at all but fascism. Now 
that we are at war with tyranny, that num- 
ber should include every authentic Ameri- 
can. To such Americans, the stigma that 
the Jew bears is no stigma. They know 
that the Jew is branded, not for having 
for so long been a Jew, but for having for 
so long been right. Whatever promise 
the future holds for them rests in the 
hope that — through this present, vast 
travail — enough Gentiles may be as right, 
and with as much tenacity, as the Jew 
has been and is. 



HEADQUARTERS 

BY MARK VAN DOREN 

BLEAK order and impromptu 
Quiet: the made hush 
As telephones intensely 
Listen and files Jlap; 

As on their hooks the papers 
Straighten^ gravity s yawn 
Relaxing the bent word: 
No prisoners taken; 

Smoothing to a smile, 
Erroneous, the warning; 
Or to disaster's placard, 
Death window in a wall. 

Who knows? Not they, the orderlies, 
Not he, lieutenant-colonel 
Of cavalry, who whistles 
Meanwhile to far horses. 

Adjutant, he sends them, 
Anciently, the high cheer: 
The Regiment, and taps out 
Courage on a cold desk. 




ONE WAY TO CRIPPLE JAPAN 



THE INFLAMMABLE CITIES OF OSAKA BAY 



BY CHARLES L. McNICHOLS AND CLAYTON D. CARUS 



Japan's early victories have proved her 
strength to be just what competent 
observers predicted long before this 
war began. On the fighting front she 
has an excellent general staff, a superb 
infantry, and a fanatical will to win. 
On the home front she has a disciplined, 
hard-working population that willingly 
shoulders its present burden of toil and 
privation because of a firm belief that 
the Emperor's army and navy will keep 
the home soil inviolable and at the same 
time continue to win victories afield until 
the Japanese attain their predestined 
place as world rulers. 

On the other hand, her aviation has 
not been effective unless it has caught 
the enemy sound asleep or in greatly in- 
ferior numbers. Her artillery is not good 
and her naval gunnery is bad. But her 
great weakness is at home — in the con- 
centration of all her vital industrial pro- 
duction in a few small areas very vulner- 
able to aerial bombing. 

We propose to show one way in 
which bombing operations — already be- 
gun — can be effectively continued. 

The largest and most vital of these 
concentrations is in the Osaka Bay dis- 
trict, in which are located about half of 
Japan's heavy industries, including ship- 
building and the manufacturing of 
motors, engines, and railway equipment, 
as well as a major portion of her chemi- 
cal, electrical, textile, and machine-tool 
industries. 

To get a rough idea of the concentra- 



tion of both production and population 
in this area, imagine the lower end of 
Lake Michigan as Osaka Bay, with Chi- 
cago's three and a half million people 
crowded into about a quarter of her pres- 
ent area (the city of Osaka); with all of 
Detroit's industries and all of her popu- 
lation moved to Gary, Indiana (the city of 
Kobe) ; and with Pittsburgh and Toledo 
jammed together into a twenty-square- 
mile area around Chicago Heights (the 
city of Kyoto). 

Owing to the great influx of workers 
for war industries, the present popula- 
tion of Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, and their 
several contiguous suburbs is probably 
seven million, of which nearly five mil- 
lion live and work in one- and two-storey 
paper-and-plyboard houses packed to- 
gether almost wall to wall in the older, 
central sections of the three cities. 

These cities are highly vulnerable not 
only to bombing but to the easiest and 
cheapest type of bombing — the broad- 
casting of many small incendiaries over 
a comparatively wide area by a few 
large, long-range planes flying above 
anti-aircraft fire. 

The Germans tried this "area bomb- 
ing" over London and after some initial 
success abandoned or greatly modified 
it because the percentage of the London 
area that is covered by combustible 
structures was too low. All the accounts 
in technical publications agree that 
about fifteen per cent of London's met- 
ropolitan area is covered with buildings 



ONE WAY TO CRIPPLE JAPAN- 



SI 



that arc inflaininahic to a greater or 
lesser degree, while eighty-five per cent 
is parks, pavement, bodies of water, and 
fireproof buildings. So out of a thou- 
sand incendiaries dropped at random 
over the London area, only one hundred 
and fifty would hit anything that might 
burn. 

Furthermore, it was discovered that 
about half of these one hundred and 
fifty bombs would glance off brick walls 
or steep slate roofs and burn out harm- 
lessly on the pavement below, leaving 
only seventy-five individual problems 
for the fire wardens. And because Lon- 
don is primarily a brick-and-plaster city 
— in which only its wooden beams, 
wooden floors, furnishings, and stored 
goods are inflammable — most of those 
seventy-five incendiaries (out of the orig- 
inal one thousand) would fall in places 
sufficiently fire-resistant to allow vigilant 
fire wardens to deal with them by meth- 
ods now widely known before a real 
blaze could be started. 

In places that are a hundred per cent 
inflammable, say in a waste-basket full of 
rumpled paper, none of these methods 
would work because a thermite-magne- 
sium bomb — the most effective type 
— would set the paper ablaze practically 
at the instant of contact, and certainly 
during the first minute when it would 
still be violently ejecting flaming ther- 
mite. 

We will put the average inflammabil- 
ity of London structures at twenty-five 
per cent, which is probably too high. 
At all events it is low enough so that the 
watchers can often delay attempts to 
isolate or smother an incendiary until 
after the first violent phase of combustion 
is over and the magnesium case is burn- 
ing placidly at a mere twenty-three hun- 
dred degrees Fahrenheit. 

Yet in London, where the average 
coverage is only fifteen per cent and the 
inflammability of that coverage is twen- 
ty-five per cent or less, much damage was 
done by incendiaries alone until a con- 
siderable part of the population was as- 
signed to duty as fire wardens. 



II 



In its firoresistant qualities 'lokvu 
compares nmch more favorably with 
London than d(j the other great Japa- 
nese industrial cities. After the great 
earthquake and fire of r^23 autliorities 
in charge of reconstruction cut a hun- 
dred new wide streets througli Tokyo, 
established fifty new parks and squares, 
and saw to it that throughout the central 
section of the city a number of fire- 
proof, earthquake-proof buildings were 
erected. 

The Japanese could not afford to build 
a completely modern city, and the stand- 
ard wood-and-plyboard houses sprang 
up all round the modern buildings. 
But the parks, the wide streets, and the 
occasional rows and blocks of modern 
buildings are all effective fire-breaks. 
Further, they reduce Tokyo's combusti- 
ble coverage to about twenty per cent — 
as against London's fifteen. The in- 
flammability of much of that coverage is 
far higher than London's — probably 
three times as high — but there is no like- 
lihood of causing a city-wide conflagra- 
tion in Tokyo with a few cargoes of in- 
cendiaries. 

An effective bombing of Tokyo would 
be a costly multiplane job, involving 
precision bombing of limited objectives 
such as the central station, the naval 
arsenal, shipping installations and sev- 
eral scattered industrial areas, as well as 
widespread incendiary bombing. The 
same applies for the adjacent Yokohama 
area which has been widely modernized 
since the big earthquake. 

About half way between Tokyo and 
the cities around Osaka Bay is Nagoya, 
a very important port town and indus- 
trial center with a wartime population 
approaching two million. Most of Na- 
goya's large industrial installations are 
quite new and the greater part of them 
are housed in modern buildings, such as 
are now common in the Tokyo- Yoko- 
hama area. But much of Nagoya's 
small industry and about seventy-five 
per cent of its population are housed in 



l>l]RIIC I IRRARV 



32 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 




squat flimsy Japanese structures crowded 
together on narrow cluttered streets in 
the central section where there are few 
parks or other open areas. The average 
combustible coverage in Nagoya is 
around fifty per cent — higher in the cen- 
tral district. The over-all inflammabil- 
ity of this coverage must be about sixty 
per cent. In other words, out of a thou- 
sand incendiaries scattered across Na- 
goya, five hundred would hit something 
that would burn, and probably more 
than three hundred would start fires be- 
fore any preventive measures could be 
put into effect. 

But none of these cities offers such a 
combustible target as the cities of Kyoto, 
Kobe, and Osaka. 

Kyoto, lying at the inland apex of the 
vital Osaka Bay triangle, with a war- 
time population of a million and a half, 
has an over-all roof coverage that is 
somewhat less than Nagoya's, probably 
forty per cent, because in Kyoto there 
are several open areas — parks, temple 
grounds, and the like — and some com- 
paratively wide streets. But except for 
these the coverage is very high, notably 
in the slums about the main railway 
station. The inflammability is high be- 
cause there are very few modern build- 
ings. Most of Kyoto's industry is car- 
ried on in family dwellings or structures 
of similar type. Before the war with 



China a large part of the population 
made ornamental objects of brass and 
iron and a great deal of lacquer and 
cloisonne work. Then one after another 
of the narrow streets in which these 
artisans lived and worked was barred to 
foreigners. The supposition is that the 
metal workers are making parts for arms 
and transport equipment and that the 
former manufacturers of lacquer are 
making explosives. 

An American business man, returning 
from Kyoto late in 1940, said, "I don't 
know just what they're making, but it 
explodes frequently." 

Kobe lies on the bay west of Osaka. 
Its wartime population is about a mil- 
lion and a half and it is Japan's largest 
shipbuilding center. Kobe's older dis- 
tricts, such as the Shinkawa section with 
its five- and seven-foot streets, are ap- 
pallingly crowded, but that part of town 
that has been built up along the hills to 
the north is fairly open. Perhaps sixty 
per cent would be high for Kobe's 
over-all roof coverage, with eighty per 
cent along the water front. 

In Osaka congestion approaches the 
unbelievable. Its three and a half mil- 
lion people, five hundred thousand 
buildings, seven thousand factories — 
not counting innumerable home indus- 
tries — are crowded on the mud-flat 
delta of the Yodo River. 



ONE WAY TO CRllMMJ-. JAPAN 



33 



On the map Osaka looks as thoupjh it 
slioiild be laiily impervious to wi{les|)rea(l 
files because several arms of tlu^ Yodo 
run through it and the whole area is 
crisscrossed by what the guidebooks call 
"navigable canals." The fact is that 
all but a score of these canals are navi- 
gable by pole-push sampans only, and 
many of them are eight to ten feet wide. 
Osaka's streets are almost as narrow. 
Many of the "through" streets are fifteen 
feet wide and the by-streets are rat-runs 
where a large man can thrust out his el- 
bows and strike the buildings on either 
side. Even the famous Shinsui-bashi- 
suji, the principal business thoroughfare, 
is no wider than some of the streets in the 
old quarter of New Orleans. 

The central section of Osaka is par- 
ticularly devoid of parks and other open 
areas. There is a strip of grass and a 
double row of trees along the bank of one 
of the larger canals, paralleling the prin- 
cipal business district, that is called a 
park. Many Japanese propaganda pic- 
tures show these trees with a couple of 
modern-looking buildings in the back- 
ground with some such title as "Modern 
Osaka, the Chicago of Japan," to give 
the impression that this city really is 
modern, but most informants who have 
spent some time there report that there 
are not more than a hundred Glass A 
buildings in the whole town. These in- 
clude the plants of the two great news- 
papers, the Osaka Mainichi and the 
Asahi Shimbun, a few stores and com- 
mercial buildings, and certain recent- 
ly built units of the larger industrial 
plants. 

After some considerable calculation 
we have determined that the combusti- 
ble coverage in the twenty-five-square- 
mile area that is the central section of 
Osaka is eighty per cent, as opposed to 
fifteen per cent for London. This might 
seem to be too high, even for Japan, but 
an American student who climbed the 
Tennoji pagoda while it was being re- 
built following a typhoon a few years 
ago, wrote, "Looking either toward the 
river or the bay I saw a choppy sea of 



dirty gray roofs. No street or canal was 
visible anywhere." 'J'he same student 
puis th(! eonibuslible ccjverai^e at ninety 
per cent, with the statement, "Afjout ten 
per cent (jf the area is canals. All the 
rest will burn. Most of the streets are 
covered with elcjth or mat awnings and 
cluttered with carts, drays, push-carts, 
packing cases, and even piles of merchan- 
dise. In those districts where there are 
yards or gardens in the rear of the houses, 
you find them used for catch-alls for any 
kind of combustible trash that can be 
used for fuel. The wartime fuel short- 
age has made everyone a trash-hoarder." 

The combustibility of Osaka's build- 
ings is likewise very high. Most of the 
large industrial concerns that have mod- 
ern fire-proof units have built them in 
the outlying districts. The typical large 
factory in Osaka proper is a crowded 
hodge-podge of obsolete buildings, some 
brick veneer, some plain wood, some 
plastered inside and out with a sort of 
mud-lime stucco. Beams, joists, and 
floorings are entirely of wood. A pic- 
ture in the East Asia Economic News of 
November, 1 940, shows a huge generator 
under construction in an Osaka electrical 
works and, while the background is 
fogged out to obscure detail, board floors 
and wooden beams are quite discernible. 
A former employee of a similar plant — 
one owned by the great Mitsui family — 
referred to it as a "fire-bug's dream." 

Furthermore, wartime expansion has 
placed a premium on building space, 
and hastily erected temporary build- 
ings have been crowded in wherever 
there were a few square yards of open 
ground. 

From this and other data, it appears 
that the average inflammability of the 
large industrial plants — barring ship- 
yards and foundries — must be fifty per 
cent. In most textile and chemical 
plants it will run higher. But the larger 
part of Osaka's industrial output comes 
from small electric-powered home indus- 
tries housed in wood-and-paper build- 
ings in what may be loosely called the 
residential section. 



34 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



No matter how devoid of all other con- 
veniences, every shack in Osaka is wired 
for electricity and the vast network of 
open wiring over the city is another 
major fire hazard. 

Typical is the house of one Toya 
Miyaki, visited last year by an American 
student. Miyaki-san was a sub-foreman 
in a plant which manufactures railway 
locomotives. He had a son who was at 
that time a sergeant on the China Coast, 
where graft and looting were very good. 
His wife and daughter-in-law ran a 
thriving sweatshop at home, with the 
aid of three electric sewing machines and 
two poverty-stricken female relatives 
from the country, making pants for the 
army. Miyaki-san was therefore quite 
prosperous by local standards, as at- 
tested by the fact that his family ate rice 
rather than barley and had fish nearly 
every day. Though his home was 
packed into an endless row of similar 
houses on a fifteen-foot street, it was by 
no means in a slum, for it enjoyed the 
luxury of a garden in the rear. 

In detail, the house had a tile roof of 
rather low pitch supported by beams that 
rested on good stout poles set into the 
ground at six-foot intervals, with one 
permanent and three removable walls. 
Below the roof was a ceiling of heavy 
paper, soaked in fish-oil to keep out the 
damp. Between the roof and ceiling 
was a space of no great height that was 
the abode of the ubiquitous Osaka rats 
and was filled with the paper and straw 
nests of undisturbed generations, for 
they were removed only at rare inter- 
vals when the ceiling was renewed. 

The permanent wall was wood, cov- 
ered with mud-lime plaster. The other 
outer walls and all the inner partitions 
were light wooden frames covered with 
the same sort of heavy paper as the ceil- 
ing. They resembled, roughly, the scen- 
ery "flats" used on the stage. In some 
homes a very thin wood veneer takes the 
place of the paper, but that is frowned 
upon by the police, for the usual police 
spy-hole can be made through a paper 
wall with just a poke of the finger. 



There were many of these screens so 
that the house could be divided into sev- 
eral small rooms in winter. Whether 
they are in place or stacked against the 
permanent wall, they make a real fire- 
hazard. Almost equally inflammable 
are the straw mats, the wooden floor, the 
piles of cotton, kapok, or ersatz-fiber 
bedding stuffed away in various cup- 
boards, and the piles of cotton piece- 
goods the women were sewing. The 
only objects of household furnishing not 
a hundred per cent combustible were a 
few dishes, the medieval brazier — a box 
lined with fire-clay universally used for 
cooking and heating — and the equally 
primitive bath heater. The big family 
tub was made of wood. 

The American was proudly shown the 
garden. It contained a clump of bam- 
boo, some bushes, a tiny fish pond, and 
several large stacks of old packing crates 
and waste-paper — fuel for the bath 
heater. It was surrounded by a seven- 
foot fence, another indication of the 
family's prosperity. As the neighbor on 
the right was in the mat-weaving busi- 
ness — one of the commonest occupations 
in Japan — his side of the fence was 
stacked high with straw and millet fiber. 
The neighbor on the left made plyboard 
by gluing together incredibly thin sheets 
of wood veneer. His back yard was 
crammed with material. Across the 
ten-foot canal in the rear was a house 
whose inhabitants wound armatures for 
electric generators. Rolls of insulated 
wire and kegs of shellac were every- 
where. 

Across the street in front was a house 
that had been transformed into some 
sort of a chemical plant. The American 
did not dare ask what was made there, 
but a sign said "No Smoking" in Chi- 
nese characters, Japanese script, in Ger- 
man, and in English. At least the Eng- 
lish words were there in March of 1941. 



Ill 

A two-pound thermite-magnesium 
bomb drops out of the sub-stratosphere 



ONE WAY rO CRIPl' 



A PAN 



35 



at a tcnninal velocity of three hundred 
and fifty feet per second, with a striking 
force of several hundred pounds. The 
thermite core ignites when it hits, and 
burns for about sixty seconds at the 
blinding heat of forty-five hundred de- 
grees Fahrenheit, spitting flaming metal 
forty or fifty feet through slots in its 
case. Thereafter the magnesium case 
burns for ten or fifteen minutes at 
twenty-three hundred degrees, generat- 
ing enough heat to ignite dry wood sev- 
eral feet away. 

Such a bomb would go through the 
Miyaki roof like a bullet through butter. 
The paper ceiling and the interesting 
collection of rats' nests would light up 
like a Roman candle at the instant of 
contact. The whole house would be 
afire in a matter of seconds. If the 
bomb fell either in the street or the back 
yard there would be better than a fifty- 
fifty chance of a fire being started in the 
initial, or fire-spitting stage when no one 
can approach it without grave danger of 
incineration; for in every direction there 
would be combustible material within 
range of the ejected thermite. 

In a really congested neighborhood, 
crowded with buildings from the bank 
of one canal to the next, with only shoul- 
der-width runway between, the chance 
of the bomb starting an immediate fire 
is just about as good as if it fell into a 
full waste-paper basket. 

Osaka has a large and experienced 
fire department. It also has a wind that 
blows almost continually, varying in 
direction with the seasons. About a 
quarter of a mile from the Miyaki house 
is one of the hundred-foot observation 
towers that thrust themselves above the 
unending expanse of house roofs all over 
the city. One of the four watchers on 
the tower would spot the fire imme- 
diately, and thereafter it would be a 
race between a half dozen little man- 
drawn hand-pumpers, hose carts, chem- 
ical-wagons and the wind to determine 
whether that one two-pound bomb would 
burn several acres of Osaka. 

There have been some mighty confla- 



grations that had much less vigorous 
starts. In 1910 a woman knocked over 
a cooking brazier and eleven thousand 
homes were destroyed despite the fact 
that it was raining. In 1912 another 
small blaze got out of control, jumped 
several of the widest canals, burned all 
day and all night and wiped out the 
southwest section of the city. There 
have been plenty since, but details on 
fire losses are no longer published. 

Of course it would be impossible for 
the energetic little firemen to save any- 
thing of the Miyaki property, so they 
would immediately start pulling down 
all the buildings in the path of the flames, 
and by this method, plus vigorous pump- 
ing and squirting, they might be able to 
stop the fire from spreading downwind 
beyond the first sizable canal. If two 
fires started in that district they would 
have to split their force and attack the 
second, with a diminished chance of 
success. 

When an American asked an Osaka 
fireman what his company would do if 
it had three simultaneous fires on its 
hands, he said, "I don't know. They 
only teach us how to deal with two fires." 

Both local and imperial authorities 
have realized the peril of incendiaries. 
Concrete firewalls have been built in 
Osaka and Kobe and probably Kyoto, 
across the prevailing winds. But since 
incendiaries dropped from a great height 
scatter widely, it is doubtful if these 
walls would be very effective in prevent- 
ing a city-wide conflagration. 

If one of our B-17 or B-24 bombers 
scattered its normal load of two thousand 
incendiaries across Osaka, with its eighty 
per cent coverage and an average in- 
flammability for this coverage of at least 
seventy-five per cent, it would mean 
twelve hundred immediate fire problems 
for the fire department, as opposed to the 
one hundred and fifty a similar cargo 
would cause in London, and each prob- 
lem would be at least three times as 
serious. 

Admitting that if Osaka were de- 
stroyed by fire some very important units, 



36 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



such as shipyards and steel mills and the 
modern buildings in the commercial dis- 
trict, would suffer little damage — the 
same goes for Kobe and to a lesser degree 
for Kyoto — nevertheless its industrial out- 
put would stop. The plants that were 
not destroyed could not function when 
their workers were destitute, without 
shelter, and numb with that particularly 
stupefying mass-hysteria that besets the 
Japanese after a great disaster. 

Furthermore the feeding and shelter- 
ing of a couple of million destitute work- 
ers — and there would be nearer four 
million if Kyoto and Kobe could be 
burnt at the same time — would place 
Japan in an appalling dilemma. Her 
only reserves are those she has built up 
to supply her invasion armies. Her 
transportation system is already greatly 
overburdened with the task of moving 
army supplies. She would have the 
choice of diverting supplies from the 
army or doing without a large part of the 
industrial production that is itself vital 
to the army. 

When these cities in the Osaka Bay 
district can be burned depends on when 
we can base our B-17 or B-24 bombers 
within striking distance. That is not 
a subject for comment, but the optimum 
season would be in midsummer during 
the hot weather that follows the heavy 
June rains. Usually this lasts two 
months, between July 15th and Septem- 
ber 1 5th. Heavy showers do fall in this 
period, particularly in the afternoons 
from two to five, but there is always a 
succession of hot, dry days when the 
summer monsoon brings in from the 
ocean no more than a high, thin mist 
that hides a high-flying plane from the 
ground but permits outstanding land- 
marks to be seen from the plane. 

On such an evening five four-motored 
bombers coming over Osaka crosswind 
on parallel courses a half mile apart at 
an altitude of twenty-five thousand feet 
or better, both for their own safety and 
to permit a mile dispersal of each bomb- 
load, could well-nigh blanket the area 



with ten thousand incendiaries which, 
according to our calculations of eighty 
per cent coverage and seventy-five per 
cent inflammability, would cause about 
six thousand widely scattered fires. Un- 
der conditions then prevailing it would 
be doubtful if any human agency could 
check half of them. 

In Kyoto one plane over the section 
east of the Kamo River and two covering 
the west side could do a most effective 
job. 

Kobe, where the vital congested indus- 
trial district skirting Hyogo and Kobe 
harbors is hardly more than a mile wide, 
could be effectively covered by two 
bombers. 

The cost to us in men and planes of 
the destruction of this, the most impor- 
tant industrial area in Japan, would be 
infinitesimal in comparison with the 
results achieved; for there need be com- 
paratively few planes in the attack and 
they could operate at a height which is 
well above the effective range of any 
anti-aircraft guns the Japanese are known 
to have, and above the ceiling of Japanese 
pursuit planes. 

In any case our flying fortresses have 
already proved that they can take care 
of themselves in the air against whatever 
the Japanese send up against them. 

The loss of civilian life in Osaka would 
not be as great as that caused by German 
demolition bombs in England's indus- 
trial centers, and certainly not as great 
as the Japanese demolition and frag- 
mentation bombs caused in Chinese 
cities. In Osaka the canals can be a 
refuge from fire and the tidal flow is 
sufficient to keep the water from becom- 
ing unbearable. In some of the slum 
sections of Kobe and Kyoto where there 
are no canals the suffering that an in- 
cendiary attack would cause is terrible 
to contemplate. 

But the fact remains that this is the 
cheapest possible way to cripple Japan. 
It will shorten the war by months or even 
years and reduce American and Allied 
losses by tens of thousands. 



IH^:rllK 



A TRY FOR THE ISLAND 



A STORY 



BY PAUL HORGAN 



I WENT up to Colorado one summer 
when I was a boy to visit my cousin 
Jack Winterhood. I didn't know him 
very well, but his mother was my father's 
sister. She was a widow who taught 
the rural district school in the country of 
the South Fork of the Rio Grande. I 
stayed with her and her son, who was a 
year older than I. They lived in a white 
painted farmhouse set in the greenest 
field I can remember on the flat land by 
the big river which ran past their place 
two hundred yards away. 

What a river ! It came rushing grand- 
ly down through the open tunnel of 
rock, and the water was the color of 
daylight reflected in a dark mirror. 
One branch of the river came from the 
west and the north.. , The other came off* 
Wolf Creek Pass to the south. Where 
they came together there was a point of 
land that narrowed as the division be- 
tween the streams. But off" the tip of 
this point there was an island. It was 
a long spit of land not very wide across. 
The river was deep and full of silvery 
rapids on both sides of it and below. 
But above it, by a curious roil in the 
meeting of the two mountain flows, there 
was a deep black pool which turned 
slowly and mysteriously like a magic 
lake, lapping delicately at the island's 
upper end. 

My cousin Jack Winterhood was a 
calm, active boy with brown eyes and a 
pale freckled face and short-cut brown 
hair. He had flecks of yellow light in 



his eyes, and when he was thinking some- 
thing over he would simply regard me, 
and those flecks would seem to kindle 
with deliberation and justice, and when 
he decided what he thought or would do 
he spoke crisply, and I could never do 
other than his will, for it seemed to me 
to have been so inevitably arrived at. 

The narrow-gage D. and R. G. rail- 
road ran through that valley, along the 
river course, in and out of canyons. It 
fed the gold- and silver-mining camps up 
in the mountains to the west, and it 
hauled cows back to the plains and 
connected at junctions for reshipping on 
broad-gage railroads to the markets of 
Texas and Kansas. One of the main 
delights of that summer was to play 
along the right of way where the minia- 
ture engines and cars went trolling by. 
In that green canyon country, where 
bare rock looked so silvery in the sun- 
shine, it was music to hear the whistles 
of the D. and R. G. engines come beat- 
ing ahead against the Rocky Mountains, 
and to hold your breath and listen again 
for the echo that would follow sometimes 
when the wind was right, and to hear 
mixed with the whistle the sound of the 
river slipping fast, fast, through the green 
and clear-cut channel with the hushing 
sound of silk. 

I remember the station, painted 
ochre-yellow with a dark-red shingled 
roof. It stood in a miniature park of 
grass and flower beds filled with cannas 
that drank the sunshine and turned 



38 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



scarlet among the coal-black shadows of 
the station house. My cousin Jack in- 
troduced me to the agent's son, a boy 
our age named Ted Barksdale. He re- 
garded me as a native of another country 
when he heard I came from New Mex- 
ico. He thought I should speak nothing 
but Spanish and ride a burro and eat 
chili peppers. When I protested that 
I was an American just like him, and 
that New Mexico was only a hundred 
miles away, he would laugh and say that 
he would understand me if I'd say it in 
Spanish. 

Ted was the cleanest-looking human 
being I ever saw. It was a quality of 
his skin, which was smooth and the color 
of the softest brown buckskin. His eyes 
were pale blue and below them were rolls 
of flesh in a perpetual expression of mer- 
riment. His hair was buckskin-colored 
too but on the yellow side. He seemed 
all of a piece in his coloring. And he 
was this too in his character. I think 
he was near to what an Indian of 
the great prairie days must have been 
like. 

I was there only two weeks that sum- 
mer, with my Aunt Winterhood and 
those two friends. We did an awful lot 
during such a short time. Ted got his 
father to let us all three ride up to Greede 
on a freight train one time, and we 
faithfully stayed in the caboose because 
that was the condition of our agreement. 
Every time the train crossed the river we 
could feel the trestle trembling with not 
only the weight of the cars but the black 
hurry of the river itself. We all felt big- 
ger than usual in the tiny caboose of the 
narrow-gage. 

We sat and listened to Tode Ghedes- 
ter, the brakeman, who was the most 
evil-mouthed man I ever heard. He 
told us stories and rhymes and vicious 
chronicles, all with a hesitant zest which 
was deceptively modest. It was just the 
manner to make us think we were hear- 
ing about "life." He went on until Mr. 
Richards, the freight conductor, came 
into the caboose. The conductor was 



a family man who carried round in his 
pocket a volume of the sermons of Henry 
Ward Beecher, in which he marked pas- 
sages that struck his stern fancy. He 
read this one aloud to us: 

"By fire, by anvil-strokes, by the ham- 
mer that breaks the flinty rock, God 
played miner, and blasted you out of the 
rock, and then He played stamper, and 
crushed you, and then He played smelter 
and smelted you, and now you are gold, 
free from the rock, by the grace of God's 
severity to you." 

In this sentence the conductor found 
himself. 

My aunt often made us packages of 
food and sent us off* for a day's tramp, 
following the river. One day we climbed 
so far that we caught sight of the tre- 
mendous falls of Wolf Greek Pass long 
before the wagon road could have shown 
them to us. 

My cousin Jack was planning to be a 
lawyer and to live in Denver, which was 
grander in his dreams than London or 
Paris or New York. He used to ask me 
if there was any capitol dome in any of 
those cities covered with genuine gold? 
It is hard to understand now how much 
the sound of the name Denver could 
bring alive in the West of my boyhood, 
but I remember how Jack Winterhood 
sounded when he used to say it. Jack 
was a worldly boy even then, in a sense 
that I never thought of being or that Ted 
Barksdale never even heard of. 

One day I asked Jack about the island 
at the confluence of the two rivers that 
ran together like liquid obsidian. 

"There's nothing on it." 

"Have you ever been on it?" 

"Lots of times." 

"Has Ted?" 

"Sure. He took me the first time." 

"Is it hard to get there?" 

"It's hard or easy, depending." 

"How do you mean?" 

Jack explained. You could go to the 
west end of the island and swim across the 
backwater there, which was no trick at 
all. You had to cross the South Fork of 
the river to do it, and the most conven- 



A TRY FOR 'IIIK ISLAND 



39 



icnt way was to walk over ihc railroad 
trestle on the open ties, with the wator 
running beneath. That was the easy 
way, if the longer. 

"What is the other way?" 

"The other way is to go about a mile 
and a half west along the main river 
past our house, and when you get op- 
posite this end of the island, why, to try 
and swim it there. Do you remember 
how it looks there?" 

"Yes," I said, recaHing the willow- 
laced banks and the fall of the meadow 
to a pebbly shelf of shallows where the 
trout played in and out of rays of sun- 
light on the polished stones. 

"I remember how it looks there," I 
told Jack. "Have you ever swum it? 
Has Ted Barksdale?" 

"You can't get to the island unless 
you swim." 

"Yes, but did you ever swim the rapids 
at the east end?" 

"We always went by the west end," 
said Jack. 

"Where the pool is?" 

"Yes. By the pool." 

"Has anybody ever gone the east 
way?" 

Jack gazed at me with his lawyer look, 
keen and yet absent-seeming, the yellow 
pips of light in his eyes dancing with 
thought. His nickname was "Judge" 
even as a boy. 

"Well, not exactly. There was a fel- 
low here named Hound-dog Gooley who 
tried it." 

"Did he make it?" 

"Nope." 

"Why? Did he turn back?" 

"Nope." 

"Well, what did he . . /' 

"We fished him out of the Rio Grande 
eleven miles farther down the next morn- 
ing. He was cut up pretty bad. Lot of 
rocks in that water." 

"Oh." 

"It can be done though, I believe. 
Hound-dog was drunk and he took it on 
a dare." 

"Oh." 

"I've always meant to try it. I'll tell 



'led you wnnt to try swiiniiiin;^ tlie east 
way to the island." 

"I didn't exactly say that." 

"You sounded pretty interested." 

The simplest thing is often the hardest 
for a boy to say. My cousin Jack Win- 
terhood had it in his mind, at first out of 
orncriness, and then out of conviction, 
that I was dying to swim the Rio Grande 
at the confluence there, and the next 
time we were together with Ted he 
said: 

"The Mexican wants to go to the Is- 
land by the east way." 

"You don't say," exclaimed Ted. 
"Has he ever so much as glanced at it?" 

"I have, of course I have," I said, 
"but I never said I actually wanted to 
swim it. I just wanted to see what was 
on the island." 

"Why don't we?" asked Ted with a rise 
of his brow. 

"Well, we've meant to often enough, 
haven't we?" said Jack. "All right. 
Since my cousin from Mexico really 
wants to," he added, "I feel it only meet 
and fitting that we do our best to enter- 
tain him. I believe we ought to go 
to-morrow and swim the east way, and 
spend the afternoon on the island. 
There'll be nobody around to bother us. 
We can leave a note under a stone and 
then of course on returning we can always 
pick up our own note, and tear it up and 
nobody'll ever have to bother with it." 

"A note?" I asked, but I knew he 
meant that in case we never came back 
somebody would find the note and dis- 
cover what we had tried and at what we 
had failed. 

I couldn't tell whether they were 
nervous about it, and I searched their 
faces. So far as I could see, they were 
unconcerned. 

Later that same day Jack was hunched 
down over a book in the front room of 
the Winterhood house, and I said to my 
aunt that I thought I would go for a 
walk by myself. She looked at me and 
asked if anything was troubling me, and 
in her eyes I saw my father's look — she 



40 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



was his sister — and I had a lump in my 
throat; but I assured her that ever\'- 
thing was fine, and that I was ha\T.ng the 
best summer of my life -isiting her and 
Jack and Ted Barksdale this way. 

I went out and drifted to the river. I 
watched the v»illow shadows creep across 
the glass}' flow as the sun fell, and when 
it was chilling to dusk I came to the 
point on this bank opposite the east way 
to the island. How black the rapids 
were! ^^^lat white ruffles they made! 
How stony the roar of the waters when I 
held my breath and turned my head to 
listen! A mocking bird was somewhere 
about, and his jxjwerful pipe was dou- 
bled and made into song by the echo off 
the river. I was surrounded by the 
rocky dark of mountain and canyon. 

We shall never make it. I thought, I 
must persuade them that it cannot be 
done. Remember Hound-dog Cooley. 
I \Nill say. and vrhat happened to him; 
how would you like to be found eleven 
miles dowmstream gashed by the rocks? 

Yet all the next morning I could not 
s|>eak. We were going to meet before 
noon, take a lunch from my aunt, and 
our swimming trunks, and set forth. 
Ted was in high spirits and Jack was 
solemn, as befitted one who would enter 
wholly but not hghtly into a pact \Wth 
death. I thought that they were delib- 
erately not looking at me. and I beheve 
that I must have sho\%n my misery. 

It was a bright summer day. The air 
in those mountains was like a mirror 
for the sun. so clear, so golden. We 
w^alked the same way I had gone the 
e%'ening before. 

About noon we were there, and Jack 
said we would eat our lunch first, then 
he down for forty-five minutes to take a 
nap and digest our food, and then we 
would try it. I asked what we would 
do ^^-ith our clothes. He said we would 
leave them in the willows with a couple 
of stones on them, where we could find 
them when we returned. As he lay 
down he took out an envelope from his 
pocket and handed it to Ted and 
nodded to him to read the page within it. 



Ted glanced at the paper and with per- 
fect indifference returned it to Jack. I 
could imagine what it said. The sun- 
shine cleaved the broken river with 
swords. 

We lay down to our naps. Once 
during that awful restfulness Ted drow- 
sily asked Jack if he thought their things 
would still be on the Island from the last 
time they'd gone there — over the west 
pool of course. Jack replied that he 
imagined so. A few minutes later with 
sudden energy Jack raised his head and 
said to me: 

•''You can swim^ can't you. Pete?" 

I said I could. 

He sighed with elaborate relaxation, 
and went back to his nap. 

I was so tired from anxiety and from 
choking on my own words that I fell 
asleep. The next thing I knew Jack 
and Ted shook me. and danced off dowm 
the narrow shelf of sand and pebbles to 
the waters edge, calling to me to hurry 
and come on. It was time to start. 

They had put their clothes under the 
fiat stones back of the willow^s a little bit 
up the bank. I put mine there too and 
saw the envelope, the "note," on which 
Jack had wTitten "To Friends of Judge 
Winterhood; Ted Barksdale, and Peter 
Rush, July 27, 1892." I was suddenly 
overwhelmed with gratitude and pity 
for being included with their names on 
this mortuary document. But they were 
calling me, standing in the sunshine and 
shivering by the rivers edge. 

The water was icy cold. We waded 
upstream gingerly until we should be op- 
posite the deepest and yet most powerful 
channel. Jack's purpose was to launch 
into the current and fight diagonally 
across it, until by perfect timing we should 
be deposited on the very last tip of the 
island, and of safety. 

There was still time; but I could say 
nothing. The river flashed in our ears 
and in our eyes. 

Jack began to run with the clumsy gait 
of one in tugging water. It was like gath- 
ering himself for the final plunge. The 



A TRY FOR THE ISLAND 



41 



sun was hot on our hacks. The islanrl 
had a thick screen of willows and srrul) 
cottonwoods facing us. Beyond that lay 
what wc were seeking. I didn't know 
what it was. I caught my breath when 
Jack plunged, and then Ted, into the 
black glassy run of the current. They 
swam powerfully and with valor, and 
were taken away it seemed to mc so fast 
that I thought they were lost from the 
very first. In obedience to something 
they left in the air, in my mind, behind 
them, I came to the same place and I 
plunged in, and I too was lost; for the 
bearing motion of the river swept every- 
thing else out of me. I beat with my 
arms and I kicked and I hugely drank in 
air when I could, and I felt the mindless 
flow of the water, of the earth, of Nature; 
and it seemed to me the very essence of 
death. 

"No!" something cried to me. But 
there were two ways to make that answer. 

I turned and buried my head in the 
current and, given might by the fear in 
my breast, I kicked and beat my way 
back to the shallows I had left behind me. 

I turned round sickened with what I 
must see, and at what I saw my heart 
sank, but not the way I had expected it 
to. 

On the edge of the island, dancing in 
front of the rustling green, were Jack 
and Ted, yelping like Indians and mo- 
tioning me to come; why did I not come, 
what was I doing there, and look where 
they were ! Come on ! 

"Come on!" they shouted and swept 
the water from their bodies with their 
palms. 

It took them a few minutes to realize 
that I was afraid. When they knew 
that, they produced themselves as tri- 
umphant proofs that the east way could 
be swum. Come on! We can't wait 
here all day! . . . 

I nodded and shook my head. I had 
tried it, they knew that, why did they 
keep making me have to try it again? 

They were laughing and playing in the 
highest of spirits. They had earned the 
right to play. They boxed together and 



danced apart and turned to mc and ex- 
horted. I could hear hardly a word. 
But I knew everything they were saying 
and meaning. Jack shook hands with 
himself at me in the air above his head. 
Ted put his hands together, pantomiming 
the act of swimming, and gravely indi- 
cated that that was how it was done. 

I was shaken with the most crippling 
of agues. It was one within me. I 
wrung my hands and said no with my 
whole body. Two were strong and suc- 
cessful, and one was afraid. 

They finally looked at each other, 
shrugged, and shook hands, as if in wit- 
ness. Then, dripping with sunlight, 
they broke against the willow screen on 
the island, fought the green fantasy of 
the boughs for a moment, and were gone 
into the interior. They had done all 
they could. I was alone with the river. 

Then I knew that I must join them. 
To belong is the strongest of all our forces 
at times. That was why I couldn't speak 
the night before or that morning. It 
was worse, alone. I didn't know whether 
my hunger was going to be greater than 
the river's. 

I tried to swim with long, powerful 
strokes and to be intelligent about not 
holding my breath, but to drink deeply 
of the air when I could and expel it as 
deliberately. The first time I looked up 
toward my goal it seemed like a vision 
drowned, all wavery and slowly moving. 
But I knew in a moment that a wind was 
bearing against the willow screen on the 
island, and I saw sharply that I was going 
downstream past it. No, I said, and 
squeezed my eyes shut, and rolled from 
side to side in the current, as if to bore my 
way through it like an auger. 

It could not take forever, I knew, un- 
til the results would be clear. 

But when I saw myself more than half- 
way across, and the island still tapering 
a little way below me, the conviction 
turned round, and I shouted in my heart 
that I could make it. Come on! they 
had cried, over and over. I dug a tun- 
nel with my buried head and I beat the 
slipping, slipping water, and my breast 



42 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



felt like breaking open, like the bottom 
of a wooden ship whose ribs are beating 
upon rockj while the waves drove after 
life within. 

My breast was stabbed with pain, and 
I coughed for air and shook and looked 
up, and I was myself like the ship on the 
rocks, lying on a jagged stone, and I 
could stand up and wade the rest of it, 
to the wild grass along the island edge. 
In my breast there was a deep cut from 
the rock and the blood was washing 
down. I touched it with my fingers and, 
in some ceremony forgotten and re- 
membered from what primal impulse. I 
put my bloody fingers to my tongue and 
tasted the cost and the proof of triumph. 
Dear river, I have beaten you, and I love 
you, I said in my blood. I stared at the 
golden-blue sky and I suppose what I 
felt was thanksgiving not that I was alive 
but that I had dared to die. 

The island was boat-shaped. I tried 
to walk as well as I could down the cen- 
ter. The sand was white and deep and 
hot under foot. I startled a bird or two. 
I turned my head to listen. Everything 
was washed out of silence by the slide of 
the river on each side of the island. So 
I did not hear them and they did not hear 
me when I came upon them at what 
would be amidship of the island. 

Jack and Ted were sitting on the sand, 
playing blackjack with a withered old 
deck of cards. They had lighted cigars 
in their mouths, and the smoke was pale- 
blue in the sunlight. They had the air 
of being perfectly at home, sure of seclu- 
sion, like members of a club. Half- 
buried in the sand to keep it standing up- 
right was a pint bottle partly full of 
whiskey. For poker chips they had piles 
of those tin disks which are used to give 
broader spread to the hold of short nails 
used to tack tar-paper over pine board- 
ing. They had a perfectly settled look, 
as if their present comforts and refresh- 
ments were the most natural thing in the 
world in that small wilderness. I was 
shy for a second about intruding: they 
seemed to have forgotten my existence, 
and I then thought — why shouldn't they 



have forgotten my existence? And this 
was enough to make me sail forward out 
of the thicket with a yell and sit down 
before them. 

They jumped up and yelled back. 
They began to fall all over themselves 
telling me about "their" island, and how 
often they came, and what they had, see: 
the wooden box which they kept buried 
when they were not here, but which they 
could always find; it contained their 
things, their cigars, matches, the playing 
cards, the whiskey Tcome, I had to have 
a pull at the bottle), the tin poker chips, 
a rather sandy hank of licorice, some 
reading matter, and an old leather case 
made like a cylinder. 

They gave me a cigar and lighted it, 
and we all sat down again. They 
taught me to play blackjack, generously 
handing me a lavish pile of tin chips. I 
won for a Httle while, which seemed to 
delight them all over again. There 
seemed to be nothing of theirs of which 
I had not rightfully now earned my due. 
When we were tired of playing poker Ted 
said to Jack that, since I belonged on the 
island now, "How about the telescope? 
Why don't we show that to him?" 

Out of the box they got the old leather 
case and unstrapped the cuplike top, 
and drew out an old brass telescope 
tipped with rusty black leather. My 
eyes swam and my mouth watered afthe 
sight of such a treasure. It was evi- 
dently the choicest thing they owned too, 
and they handled it lovingly, passing it 
back and forth. 

"Sometimes we spend whole Satur- 
days here on the island," said Jack, 
"looking through this glass at everything 
around here. Try it." 

He handed it to me. I went to the 
edge of the island and they followed. I 
put the glass between the branches and 
looked out over the fields across the river. 
What a world bloomed before my eye in 
the silver light of the lens, a curious and 
beautiful halo of blue and yellow around 
all objects. They let me sweep up and 
down the valley with the glass, smiling at 
my exclamations. But at last Ted took 



A IRV \i)\< 



111 



SLAND 



43 



it away from me and said that it was fun, 
and all that, but what was really inter- 
esting was to set the glass on a spot — 
any given spot — and lie down on your 
belly and watch. Just watch. Any 
spot. He'd bet ten dollars if you 
watched lons^ enough that something 
very interesting would come to pass ri<jjht 
there, no matter where you plopped your 
eye. He said that was the way they used 
the glass. It was a serious scientific in- 
strument and should be respected as such. 

We settled down with the glass. They 
made a carriage for it out of heaped sand. 
Jack trained the lens on a miniature bay 
in the opposite bank of the river — the 
side we came from. Leaves hung over 
it, and shallow water idly backed up into 
it. Shadows on the grassy bank made 
it look cool and damp and remote. You 
could barely notice the little bay with 
your naked eye. In the glass it was like 
another country made visible. Nothing 
moved in my vision. 

"Just leave it there and keep looking. 
Chances are you'll catch something," 
said Ted. 

Jack yawned. But he had good man- 
ners and he knew that the telescope ex- 
periment wouldn't be as much fun if he 
went to sleep and could not be reached 
with reports if something interesting did 
come into the lens. So he sat hugging 
his knees and chewing his cigar, and 
seemed to be thinking, as Ted Barksdale 
never seemed to do. 

After a while, Jack said: 

"Do you remember the way Tode 
talked that day we all rode up to Creede 
in the caboose?" 

Ted nodded. 

"Well," said Jack, "I have decided 
that if I ever hear him talking like that 
again I will stop his mouth." 

This was a striking promise. I turned 
away from the glass and stared at my 
cousin. He was frowning splendidly, 
his eyes with their yellow flecks flashed 
with sober spirit. Ted looked happy, 
like a fawn-colored puppy, lean and big- 
pawed. 

"Why, Judge? I thought you were 



enjoying all the dirty stories as much as 
we were," said Ted. 

"Yes," .said Jack, sternly, "I suppose I 
would laugh as loud as anybody if he 
started sometime again; but I think now 
that I would have to tell him to shut 
up." 

"Why?" asked Ted lazily, rolling over 
on the sand. 

Jack hesitated, looking round with his 
light-kindled eyes. 

"Well," he said at last, "it wasn't only 
that Mr. Richards came in and began 
spouting sermons to us. Though of 
course that was proper. I just have de- 
cided that it is within our power to choose 
our characters. I just don't think Tode 
is a very admirable individual. I don't 
think he would do as my Mexican cousin 
just did, just to prove to himself that he 
could do it." 

Ted looked at me with the impersonal 
smiling eyes of a forest animal, a deer 
perhaps. 

"And besides," said Jack, "I like the 
kind of talk that Mr. Richards can do 
better than Tode's. I am going to study 
law, and when I stand up and open my 
mouth you will be stunned at the mag- 
nificent things that will roll out." 

He got to his feet. 

"Did you ever read the Webster- 
Hayne debate?'' he asked. 

Ted Barksdale laughed. 

"You needn't laugh. We have a set 
of books at home of the best speeches of 
all time and I have been reading them. 
The other afternoon I memorized some- 
thing. Listen." 

He turned and walked off a few steps, 
and then faced us in an attitude, and be- 
gan to declaim in a loud voice, but with 
great deliberation: 

"But, sir, the coalition! The coali- 
tion ! Aye, 'the murdered coalition' ! 
The gentleman asks if I were led or 
frightened into this debate by the specter 
of the coalition — 'Was it the ghost of the 
murdered coalition,' he exclaims, *which 
haunted the Member from Massachu- 
setts, and which like the ghost of Banquo, 
would never down?' " 



44 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



Jack's voice rolled sarcastically forth, 
and he scowled, revealing his belief that 
great oratory and anger were indivisible. 
These words of Daniel Webster were like 
meat and drink to him then. 

Ted sat up and star'^id, as I did. 
Jack tried his powers and we were en- 
thralled. Denver! How could Denver 
one day fail to bow before him, with its 
pure gold dome, the famous men and 
women posed by the iron balconies of 
the ten-storey court of the new Brown 
Palace Hotel, the cavernous mirrors of 
the old Windsor Hotel, the superb teams 
pulling flashing carriages down the 
mud-and-cobble streets ! 

" 'The murdered coalition!' Sir, this 
charge of a coalition, in reference to the 
late administration, is not original with 
the honorable Member. It did not 
spring up in the Senate. Whether as a 
fact, or as an argument, or as an embel- 
lishment, it is all borrowed. He adopts 
it, indeed, from a very low origin and 
a still lower present condition." Jack 
showed, with his hands as well as with 
his growling voice, how low. "It is 
one of the thousand calumnies with 
which—" 

Here he forgot. He held his com- 
mand with lifted arm while his eyes 
roved back and forth, searching for what 
came next. He snapped his fingers for 
it to come to him out of the void. But 
not wasting too much time on a mere 
lapse, he shook his head impatiently, and 
returned to what he believed the charac- 
ter of Webster to have been like, and 
jumped ahead to his tremendous con- 
clusion, speaking slowly and with a fine- 
grained irony that held us transfixed. 

" — It is the very cast-off* slough of a 
polluted and shameless press. Inca- 
pable of further mischief, it lies in the 
sewer, lifeless and despised. It is not 
now, sir," (he glanced at the imaginary 
president of the Senate, a lightning dart) 
"in the power of the honorable Mem- 
ber to give it dignity or decency by 
attempting to elevate it, or introduce it 
into the Senate. He cannot change it 
from what it is,, an object of general 



disgust and scor-r-n. On the contrary, 
the contact, if he choose to touch it, is 
more likely to drag him down, down, to 
the place where it lies itself." 

Ted and I were spellbound when Jack 
finished and could only look at him with 
open mouths. He rubbed his short-cut 
hair and in his modest voice he tactfully 
brought us back to the present. He 
said: 

"I just don't think I have room in 
myself to entertain both Tode and Daniel 
Webster in my studies." 

Ted was too excited by the perform- 
ance to sit still. He got up and ran off* 
a way, yelling and slapping his hips, 
bounding like a dog. It was, in its way, 
a real tribute to an eloquent communi- 
cation. Jack and I laughed in delight 
at him. 

"I can't make hide nor hair out of 
what you recited," said Ted, when he 
settled down again, "but it certainly was 
pretty the way you did it. Judge. . . . 
What about our books, in the box over 
there?" 

"That is true," said Jack. "I had 
forgotten them." 

"What books?" I asked. 

"Just some dirty books we've got. . . . 
You haven't looked in that glass for a 
long time. You might be missing some- 
thing." 

I turned back and set my eye and 
called out at what I saw. In the silvery 
gray field of the telescope, a round pic- 
ture cut forward out of another world, 
I saw a big striped snake trying to swal- 
low a fat frog. He had the frog's left 
leg in his gullet, and was struggling to 
enwrap the other one. The frog was 
struggling slowly. Slowly the snake was 
working. The mortal combat went on 
with slow intensity and the blades of 
grass in which they moved showed up 
clear and bright and stiff* in the lens. 
Jack and Ted came and looked, and we 
all hated the snake. We pulled for the 
frog, watching the sun-fixed struggle as 
helpless partisans. 

"You should have watched!" shouted 



A TRY FOR THE ISLAND 



45 



Jack. "Maybe we could have thrown 
stones and scared him off if we'd seen it 
start!" 

The lens was so faithful and so power- 
ful that we could see the snake's eyes like 
drops of dew, black with a pin of light 
in them. As he worked and swallowed, 
his eyes would roll from sight and then 
as he relaxed they would show again. 
The frog's eyes seemed to look nowhere 
and everywhere. The snake coiled him- 
self elegantly about the frog's body to 
reduce it if he could into a palatable 
shape. The river ruffled past in the 
miniature bay, and at one point in his 
sliding efforts, the snake's tail wove in 
and out of the laplets of water behind 
them. Now the battle seemed halted. 
They rested a moment, perfectly still, 
locked in their parable of life and death. 
I could not take my eye off them and 
the others let me keep the glass. 

"What was that!" I cried suddenly. 

"Where?" 

"Something came across the glass, a 
shadow. . . . There it is again!" 

Jack looked along the telescope as if 
to see with his own eye what I was seeing 
in the brass tubes. But it was Ted who 
saw it first. 

"Look up !" he whispered loudly. "It 
is a hawk, he's sailing around to make a 
dive. You must have seen his shadow 
when he came down before." 

We looked up and there in the white 
sunlight was the superb bird. He was 
sailing down in a narrowing ring, and I 
had seen his shadow waft over the tiny 
meadow where the snake strove and the 
frog strove so silently. 

"Watch!" said Ted. Even before the 
hawk dropped he knew when it would; 
many the hawk he had had in his days 
outdoors. 

"Use the glass!" whispered Jack to me. 

I looked. The clash of claw and beak 
and feather was tremendous in the lens 
— the black beating shadow with the 
golden flecks of feather, the white breast, 
the green whip of the snake. I saw the 
sharp, elegant talons make their clutch, 
and the cloudy wings batter the ground 



for a second before the heavy rise into the 
sky. The hawk's scowl in the powerful 
head flashed once into vision. The 
snake curled and relaxed, curled and 
relaxed, but was taken away, and the 
frog fell free on the grass and remained 
panting. Its white throat vibrated like 
a little drum. 

I moved away from the glass and told 
them to look. 

The hawk climbed and climbed. . . . 

Jack used the glass on the frog, and 
said: 

"He's trying ifhe can move. . . . There 
he went. He jumped into the water. 
I'll bet he's glad!" 

So were we. 

Ted was true to himself when he said: 

"Golly, I wish I'd had my rifle with 
me; I'd sure potted that hawk on his 
way up. I could do it easy from this 
distance." 

Jack said, "Well, that is the law of 
wild creatures. They take what they 
are. But we may say for ourselves what 
we shall be." 

He went over to the box. 

"What're you doing?" asked Ted. 

Jack nodded but did not answer. 

He picked up the gray-looking paper 
books I'd seen in the box, and with ex- 
aggerated ceremoniousness, he carried 
them to the edge of the island and threw 
them into the river. They floated rapidly 
off downstream. 

Ted shrugged. "Well, I had read 
them all, anyway," he said. 

"Let's all have another drink," said 
Jack. 

There wasn't much whiskey in the 
pint bottle. We passed it round. We 
all choked on it and swallowed it and 
felt important and secure in our island 
league. 

They showed me how things were 
stowed away in the box and how the box 
was fastened and how the box was 
buried. They told me that I was now 
privileged to come here and use the 
box at any time. They said they had 
built the box, using Mr. Barksdale's 
tools at the freight house. 



46 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



It was turning chill with the lessening 
light. The water already looked dark, 
like shining mineral. 

Jack said when we were ready that we 
would go back by the west pool, where 
there was hardly any current to speak of. 

"We have earned the easy way," he 
stated, like a judge handing down a 
decision. 

We ran through the little trees to the 
other end of the island. The sky was 
still white over us, but the ground was 
blueing with shadow. The pool was 
black and calm, its surface turning in a 
slow wide wheel. We dived in and 
crashed across to the other bank and 
climbed up on a cool green field. 

That was where the river made a Y, 
and we had landed where the two arms 
came together. We still had to cross 
the leftmost arm of the Y to reach our 
clothes and be on our home side of the 
river fork. It was now twilight, and 
the fields were quiet. A few hundred 
yards off was the D. and R. G. trestle. 
We were going to walk across that to the 
other side. Just before we reached it we 
heard an engine whistle. It came from 
behind us, up the canyon. We might 
not be able to beat it across. We 
crouched below the cindery embank- 
ment and waited till it came. It was a 
combination freight and passenger train, 
and it was on us before we knew it, 
trembling the earth as it went by above 



us, clouding us with steam, and adding 
to the fall of night with its heavy soft- 
coal smoke. It sailed on the slow grand 
curve which the tracks made approach- 
ing South Fork. We stood up when it 
had passed and saw the red and green 
caboose lights drifting evenly through 
the dusky distance. I thought of Tode 
and the freight conductor within, and 
of their two wills. 

We hopped on the ties across the tres- 
tle, came down to the branchy cover of 
the other bank, following it to our flat 
stones. Jack said "H'm," when he 
lifted the stone and found the envelope 
he had left there. With a kindly sort of 
indulgence of ourselves as we had been 
a few hours ago, he tore it up, and we 
dressed. 

We started back toward the houses 
across the fields. There were a few 
lights showing. We suddenly felt hun- 
gry and cold and were ready to go our 
separate ways. When we reached the 
freight house where there was no trace 
of the important little train that had just 
passed through, we paused and said good- 
by to Ted Barksdale. 

"Well, Judge, one thing more," said 
Ted to Jack. He said that there would 
be no further point in speaking of me as 
a Mexican since I was no longer a for- 
eigner. They shook hands on that 
point. Jack and I went on home to his 
house. 





THE REVOLUTION IN HOUSE-BUILDING 



BY DOUGLAS HASKELL 



WHAT the war is doing for building is 
exemplified fourteen miles north of 
Baltimore at Middle River. Since 1929 
this little crossroads settlement has been 
the site of a Glenn Martin bomber plant. 
Up to the past year the town had a 
population of less than 2,500; but in 
March, 1942, the Martin plant was em- 
ploying upward of 40,000 workers, and 
Mr. Martin was predicting that the 
town would soon have 125,000 inhabit- 
ants. The bomber plant has expanded 
so much that it now covers roughly 
seventy-three and one-half acres — an area 
more than eight times as large as New 
York's Washington Square. 

All the dwellings which have been 
built to house the families dependent 
upon this plant have been constructed 
in a special way; they have been pre- 
fabricated. Twelve hundred are Gov- 
ernment trailers, brought in by the Farm 
Security Administration which has also 
built dormitories for 600 single men. Of 
the more permanent houses, the first 600 
were privately financed by Martin; since 
then the Government has supplied 1,200 
"demountables." More dwellings by 
the thousand are still to come. 

For this extremely rapid growth, Mid- 
dle River obviously needs a compre- 
hensive plan; it cannot merely spread in 
the old-fashioned way at random; and 
the responsibility is now in the hands of 
an FSA consultant and the Maryland 
State Planning Commission. 

So Middle River is based on a new 
kind of industry and is a new kind of 
town. It has a new kind of house and 



is getting a new kind of plan. It pro- 
vides striking evidence of changes which 
are revolutionizing American building. 
The rapidity of its expansion has de- 
manded rapid and efficient construction 
methods which have opened the flood- 
gate of industrialization; the mass and 
the speed of the effort, together with a 
new mobility, have necessitated the de- 
velopment of new unified instruments of 
planning, administration, and finance. 
There, in a nutshell, is the story of our 
emergent capacity for construction. We 
are having our first experience with 
building mobilized. 

The demands of war have necessitated 
an unprecedented expansion of the na- 
tion's industrial plant. The total volume 
of industrial construction during 1941 — 
in the 37 States east of the Rockies — was 
almost twice as great as the previous 
record total made in 1920. By mid- 
summer no less than 302 construction 
jobs had been completed under the Gov- 
ernment program. 

As an example of what is involved in 
the erection of a single large war estab- 
lishment. Architectural Forum listed the fol- 
lowing ingredients that went into one 
powder plant in Indiana: "5,500 acres 
of land; $88 million; 571 new and sepa- 
rate buildings; 110,000 feet of new water 
lines; 12 miles of sewer lines; 44 miles of 
roads; 61 miles of new railroad; 13 miles 
of enclosing fence; 65 contractors at work, 
located in 13 States and the District of 
Columbia; eight subcontracts in excess 
of $1 million; 25,000 site employees; a 
special post office to handle their 10,000 



ci\\«L'IN<5'4Jif 



48 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



pieces of daily mail; 5,000 automobiles 
parked in the employees' lot, with licenses 
from 36 different States; 300,000 pounds 
of linters a day to supply the plant when 
complete and operating — enough cotton 
string to race two kites to the moon." 

To put together such an assortment of 
items in six months has required the 
services of architects of a new type — not 
skyscraper builders, but equally bold. 
Glenn Martin's architect is Albert Kahn. 
The son of immigrant parents, Kahn 
grew up with the automobile industry in 
Detroit, built its plants (which the "real" 
architects were happy to relinquish to 
the "office boy"), and wound up with 
an organization of his own that has built 
factories on all six continents to an 
aggregate value of over a billion dollars. 
This does not count the two-billion- 
dollar program in Russia, under wildly 
primitive conditions, which the Ameri- 
can organization directed and in part 
designed, and which created the present 
industrial backbone of the U.S.S.R. 

Although such a war plant as Albert 
Kahn's Navy unit at Glenn Martin's is 
as fine a sight as an American may wish 
to see, the design methods are as rigidly 
industrialized as the building methods; 
indeed, the two are telescoped so that 
steel is already under fabrication before 
the contracts for the envelope are closed. 
The 440,000 square feet of the Navy 
unit were ready for machinery just eleven 
weeks after the order to proceed had been 
given ! 

This remarkable speed stands in sharp 
contrast to the traditional slowness of 
building. Plants with a floor area of a 
million square feet (about 23 acres) are 
not uncommon, and Ford's new bomber 
plant covers close to 100 acres; yet a 
number of these plants have been built 
in less than 100 days, one in only 68 
working days. The secret of course is 
standardization; the bulk of any factory 
is made up of standard "bays." A bay 
is the space between four columns; once 
the spacing of the columns, their height, 
and the method of skylighting have been 
determined, the rest is mere multiplica- 



tion; the steel cost can be estimated by 
the pound. 

But we had fast factory building before 
the war; what is new is the speed-up on 
the same lines in the construction of homes. 
Say that a small factory can be finished 
in 57 days; the demonstration has been 
made in the field that an acceptable 
house to go with it can be assembled 
in 57 minutes. It happened at a town 
in Texas. A great new airplane fac- 
tory was located there for reasons of 
strategic dispersal and ^vas about to drop 
11,000 workmen and their families on a 
town of 1,595 people. So the Federal 
Works Administration dispatched its en- 
ergetic assistant administrator, Colonel 
Lawrence Westbrook, to erect a 300- 
house nucleus for later amplification by 
private enterprise. 

The contractor was allowed just 100 
days to finish his 300 houses. So he 
acted like an enterprising American. 
He employed as collaborating architects 
Roscoe P. DeWitt of nearby Dallas, and 
Richard J. Neutra and David R. Wil- 
liams of Los Angeles, men who combined 
local knowledge with experience in the 
special art of designing for multiple re- 
production. Then the contractor got 
three circus tents and set them up on the 
site. In the first he stored his materials 
to keep them dry. In the second they 
were cut to pattern and stacked. In the 
third the numbered parts were dropped 
into their appointed places on accurate 
templates or "jigs" where they could be 
nailed together without error — a job 
almost anybody could do. Thence, in 
the form of large panels, they were 
trucked to the foundations. The time 
of 57 minutes, 58 seconds, for the final 
bolting was not exactly typical; it was 
a show, a race between two teams (50 
men each, counting the water boy); but 
something has happened when a building 
job is done in the spirit of a rodeo ! At 
the end of the hour the winning crew had 
their house ready, complete to the pub- 
licity lady in the bathtub and the Fuller 
brush man at the door. 

Such "jig-table," "jig-time" house pro- 



THE REVOLUTION IN IIOUSE-BL 1 LIM NG 



49 



duction is of course incomparably faster 
tlian the average of all war building, even 
if you stretch that record-breaking hour 
into two or three days; its significance is 
merely that for 1941 it represented the 
new attainable speed norm in the field. In 
quality if not in speed the performance is 
already being radically surpassed; pro- 
duction in 1942 is moving from impro- 
vised tents or shanty jig-tables into local 
production plants. Further industrial- 
ization is being hastened by larger Gov- 
ernment orders. In January a record- 
breaking $163,000 was appropriated for 
42,000 "demountable," and hence also 
"prefabricated," houses. 

II 

Speedy house-building has a history 
that reaches, as a matter of fact, far back 
into the Yankee past. Only the words 
and the forms are new. Virtually every 
American who lives in a wooden house is 
already using one of America's greatest 
contributions to the industrialization of 
building. These wooden houses of ours 
are not the houses of the Pilgrims. They 
are the result of invention which trans- 
lated the old Pilgrim frame — an affair of 
individually shaped, large, widely spaced 
timbers, carefully notched, fitted, and 
pegged — into radically different terms 
suited to the power mill, the handsaw, 
the hammer, and the common nail. In 
1840 these houses were something new. 
They were ridiculed for their "balloon" 
frame without which, as Sigfried Giedion 
has recently reminded us, Chicago and 
San Francisco could never have arisen 
as they did, from little villages to great 
cities in a single year. 

Now that, after a lapse of a century, we 
are once again building cities in a day, 
it is inevitable that industrialization 
should make further strides. The 1940 
and 1941 "defense" houses set the car- 
penter's saw to power and put his modi- 
fied 1840 frame on the jig-table, thus 
giving our traditional "prefabrication" 
its ultimate speed-up. The next step, 
which is already being taken in a number 



of 1942 war-construction projects, is to 
leave traditional nictlujds behind alto- 
gether and to produce houses entirely by 
modern engineering. 

Engineering, unlike prefabrication, 
completely disregards existing methods. 
It seeks for an exact, comprehensive, and 
advanced — even an ideal —statement of 
requirements; it seeks to meet them with 
the most efficient conceivable produc- 
tion; both the process and the product 
may have to be wholly redesigned. 

With real mass production in prospect, 
private and public research agencies 
have put millions into engineering every 
aspect of the house, but the process can 
be most easily explained here in terms 
of structure alone. For the first time 
in our history we are introducing a whole 
series of new structural principles into 
common houses. They come over from 
airplanes, ships, planetaria, bridges. A 
short article cannot deal with the more 
esoteric experiments nor with the various 
"igloos," whether of metal stamped out 
like automobile fenders or of concrete 
hardened into a shell over an inflated 
half-balloon. Two house types must suf- 
fice us — less spectacular but now actu- 
ally being produced by the thousand. 

The first of these is based on some ex- 
perimental work done in 1935 and there- 
after at the Forest Products Laboratory, 
translating airplane structural principles 
into house-structure. Without going in- 
to lengthy technicalities, we may simply 
say that the trick was to make the cover- 
ing help the frame. Floors and ceilings 
are designed to help the joists; the inner 
and outer wall covering is designed to help 
the studs inside. In each case the cover- 
ing membrane — the "wall" or "ceiling" 
or "floor" — is built up of large, tough, 
and fairly rigid sheets of plywood. Suc- 
cess depends upon having this membrane 
glued to the frame. (This was imprac- 
tical before the advent of strong, water- 
proof, stable phenolic glues.) Careful 
gluing produces a bond that welds the 
frame and its covering into one con- 
tinuous indivisible single-acting unit; it 
is all "one piece." The frame and the 



50 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



covering together become what engineers 
call a "box girder," in which the stresses 
are not carried, as hitherto, by the frame, 
but are carried backward and forward 
through framing and "skin" — hence the 
principle is called the "stressed-skin" 
principle. 

This structural use of the house-skin 
makes it possible to employ a much 
lighter frame than traditional design 
would permit. In practice the framing, 
whether for floors and roofs or for walls, 
is built in the shop in large panels which 
are then joined together at the site. 
"Stressed-skin" houses are being built by 
the thousand in plywood; but the largest 
individual producer is the manufacturer 
of a wallboard that is made out of waste 
newspapers. 

The second house type is exemplified 
at Middle River. The research upon 
which the Glenn Martin houses are based 
was done at the Pierce Foundation by 
engineers who thought not in terms of 
setting up a house and then insulating it, 
but of finding an ideal insulation and 
protection, and then supporting it. 
These houses are the nearest thing yet 
found to an effective, inexpensive sheath 
of insulation held together by an engi- 
neered frame. This sheath is a three-ply 
sandwich of fiber-board in large sheets 
coated on both sides with a thin hard 
layer of asbestos-cement. A single thick- 
ness of it does the job of six conventional 
wall and ceiling elements: the plaster 
finish inside, the lath to hold up the 
plaster, the insulation fill between the 
studs, the sheathing boards for strength, 
the paper to keep out the wind, and the 
outside boarding to shed the weather. 
This material has been used in "pre- 
fabrication" since 1932, but not with 
so ingenious a frame. As the diagram 
shows, the roof is carried entirely by a 
pair of long deep beams supported only 
by posts set at wide intervals. This 
resembles bridge or skyscraper framing, 
except that the beam is built up out of 
timbers and plywood instead of steel. 
Underneath this beam the wall has noth- 
ing to carry but itself; it is merely a 



"curtain wall." The wide spacing of 
the posts leaves the designer free to place 
his doors and windows with almost unre- 
stricted freedom. The framing method, 
by separating out the functions of the 
various members, uses far less material 
than a standard frame, fewer pieces, and 
fewer but more accurate operations. 




Above (A) is a diagrammatic illustration of the 
way the beam is supported on widely spaced posts. 
Below, (B) illustrates the lightness and economy of 
an engineered frame in contrast with (C) the or- 
dinary house frame. 



322: 



XI 



\ 



/ 



sssssz 



To date, unfortunately, the war has 
not carried such engineering far past the 
shell of the house. Heating and plumb- 
ing and furniture and equipment are 
mass-bought but are far from integrated. 
This is not good engineering; nobody 
redesigns an airplane fuselage without 
reference to the motor. But some prog- 
ress has been made; our shortage of metal 



'J HE REVOLUTION IN H O USE-B U I M)l N(; 



51 



is a blessing in disguise, for it has already 
brought about acceptance of emergency 
plumbing standards which, with no ben- 
efit of invention, save approximately 100 
pounds of metal in an ordinary small 
house. Since our war output of houses 
this year can scarcely fall below 500,000, 
the total metal saved will be at least 50 
million pounds, or enough for no less than 
2,500 ten-ton tanks! Real engineering 
applied to household plumbing might 
double that tank corps. 

Labor has a difficult problem to face: 
in the building field to date the whole 
labor set-up has been based on the prc- 
fabrication methods of a hundred years 
ago; and the fact that swift revision is 
essential does not make it comfortable. 
There was one bad flare-up in the so- 
called ''Currier case" when a bid based 
on pseudo-prefabrication, and lower by 
$1,350 per house than bids by other com- 
panies, was turned down in order to 
appease the old-line building trades 
unions. At Indian Head, Maryland, 
where the Public Building Administra- 
tion last year set up 650 houses in a test 
of "prefabrication," some of the com- 
petitors who had hurdled the other 
problems had their product damaged by 
untrained freight handlers or stepped on 
and warped by the none too friendly 
erection crews employed by local sub- 
contractors. (To-day the Government 
makes the manufacturer responsible for 
the erection.) 

However there has come quite a shift 
in long-term attitudes of labor since the 
organization of CIO with its definite 
acceptance of the industrial environ- 
ment. In Sweden trade unions with- 
drew their opposition to prefabrication 
upon realizing that only mass production 
would supply needed shelter to labor, 
and many a quiet step forward is being 
taken here in America behind a screen 
of noisy face-saving declamation. 

Ill 

Between this war and the last there is 
a striking difference; to-day the nation 



has six times as many automcjbilcs as it 
had in 1917. Impermanencc is a part 
of any war boom; hut this time it has 
been compounded with mobility. 

The Tolan Committee of tlic House 
has filled twenty-three volumes of hear- 
ings on the subject of industrial migra- 
tion. Normally, the Committee found, 
the annual number of migrants crossing 
State lines looking for jobs is 4 million. 
By mid-1941 the "defense" boom had 
added 2 million more. Congressman 
Tolan estimated that the war migration 
would soon add up to 4 million. In 
some localities the problem was extreme. 
Because of a new war plant, Charlestown, 
Indiana, grew in a few weeks from 800 
to 18,000; San Diego expected that by 
spring of 1942 its population would 
increase by 100,000. Through other 
sources it is estimated that the number of 
industrial workers in Wichita, Kansas, 
will be multiplied twenty-five times ^ and in 
Detroit work forces may shortly increase 
by 300,000. In no other country is 
there this phenomenon of moving labor- 
armies, because no other country has 
the cars. 

On some points the testimony before 
the Tolan Committee was almost unani- 
mous. The American industrial work- 
man does not often have his heart set on 
a house. More often his hopes are for 
a car and perhaps a trailer. The reasons 
are not sentimental. A typical migrant 
to Hartford, Connecticut, said he was 
earning $40 a week but could find no 
house within his means. He was paying 
$20 a month on a trailer and $12 a month 
trailer-park rent including his electricity. 
Considering the war workers who have 
paid $8 and $10 a week for a turn on a 
''hot" bed, who can say that this man 
was not ahead? His family was cramped 
but he could at least take his trailer with 
him. For the hordes of flocking migrants 
a shelter solution in terms of permanence 
is entirely out of the question. 

Building's first impulse has been to 
meet migratory labor with a migratory 
house. Terms such as demountable^ tem- 
porary, and mobile have become familiar. 



52 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



A demountable house is one designed to be 
taken apart, moved, reassembled; it usu- 
ally looks like an ordinary house. A 
mobile house is one that can travel intact, 
or nearly intact, on wheels either its own 
or borrowed. The most practical one 
was engineered at TVA. It slices like 
a cake. The finished exterior unit (30 
feet long by 22 feet wide) divides into 
four sections. In the shop these sections 
are built on casters for easy loading on a 
truck. Each weighs about 3 tons and 
travels nicely on the highway, fully 
equipped with its share of the finished 
floors, walls, ceilings, roof, electric wir- 
ing, bulbs, plumbing, bathroom and 
kitchen fixtures, windows, screens, doors, 
kitchen cabinets, electric cooking plate. 




Trucking a fourth of a TVA house to location 

or electric refrigerator. At the site the 
sections are rolled down on to the founda- 
tion, and four men bolt them together 
with long tie-rods and complete the as- 
sembly in half a day. 

Demountable and mobile houses both 
have to be prefabricated to be good. It 
is false economy to build either one as a 
merely temporary structure; on the con- 
trary, the more often they move the more 
ruggedly they must be built. 

But the toughest problem in connec- 
tion with demountable and mobile houses 
centers in their hook-up with com- 
munity utilities and services. Streets, 
sewers, water supply, schools, police and 
fire protection, shopping centers, and 
movies raise difficult problems in a mo- 
bile-housing program. Brilliant work 



has been done by what might be called 
the new shelter arm of the Government — 
the FSA. We have already mentioned 
its trailers and dormitories, its "demount- 
ables" and its city plan at Middle River. 
Actually, it has had less money to spend 
than most of the Government agencies 
that have dealt with war shelter con- 
struction; but it has achieved some of 
the most important results. 

FSA started back in the early days of 
the New Deal as the Resettlement Ad- 
ministration. Its job was to resettle idle 
workers on the land. This was an un- 
precedented assignment, calling for the 
most economical type of rural house. So 
Resettlement set up a thoroughgoing bu- 
reau of house-building research. Then 
new policies appeared and Resettlement 
was called upon to create more or less 
self-contained satellite communities; its 
famous Greenbelt towns gave it a com- 
mand of advanced large-scale community 
planning. Then once more there was a 
shift of attention, this time to ^'share- 
croppers" and tenant farmers. Helping 
them to homes by the use of their spare- 
time labor, the Farm Security Adminis- 
tration (for that was its reorganized 
name) was able to remain outside the 
great battlefield of union controversy as 
it worked out the most economical — al- 
though pitifully primitive — of all projects 
in prefabrication. Fate seemed always 
to be sending FSA into projects, and 
among people, for whom nobody else 
cared. That left its technicians rela- 
tively free, though challenged by a 
need for strict economy. Somehow the 
agency attracted technicians who were 
able to keep human sympathy realistic. 
So when the problem shifted again, to 
the "Joad" families from Oklahoma, FSA 
turned to what is perhaps the most 
vigorously creative group of architects in 
America — the one at San Francisco — 
for young men to design the latest form 
of American pioneering community: the 
camp for the rural worker and the rural 
migrant. 

It was this experience in readiness and 
economy that FSA brought into its build- 



THE REVOLUTION IN HOUSE-BUILDING 



53 



ing for the war. The very first job it 
undertook Hnked its new field to its old 
one; farmers dispossessed by the huge 
government purchases of land were re- 
settled on large-scale modern farms. In 
the industrial field it has worked with 
brilliant resourcefulness. For the muni- 
tions workers at Radford, Virginia, 
houses of rural types were placed on 
nearby farms under an arrangement 
which will permit the farmers to acquire 
them cheaply after the war for their own 
use in permanent farming. Elsewhere 
FSA has tackled problems that were 
wholly migratory. With a detachment 
of about five thousand trailers it has gone 
trouble-shooting on the war sites of worst 
congestion. Its management of its own 
trailer camps sets a standard of order and 
decency in a field in which the lonely 
migrant is especially helpless. Like a 
corps of Army engineers which im- 
provises bridges and roads in the field, 
FSA has made strong moves to minimize 
if not to lick the problem of permanent 
house "attachments." Some of these it 
simply put on wheels; it devised trailer 
clinics, trailer showers, mobile power 
generators, and demountable electric 
light and power lines. It has also built 
dormitories for single men and women, 
and a number of community buildings. 
To convey the idea as a whole, how- 
ever, it is still necessary to go back to 
one of the rural camps built in the South- 
west before the war. These camps for 
the "Joads" combined migratory, semi- 



permanent, and permanent shelter types 
in an ordered and functioning scheme. 
The trailer pattern in such camps is 
usually in some variant of the concentric 
hexagonal arrangement which faintly 
evokes the circle of the old covered 
wagons on the plains. The arrange- 
ment is highly adapted to fluid wheeling. 
Community facilities are at the center. 
The groups of two-storey apartments 
and individual homesteads off to one 
side present no conflict to the tents and 
trailers simply because neither is treated 
shabbily and neither is treated with 
pretense. 

In these most inexpensive of layouts 
for the most tentative of people there is 
no feeling of "barracks." The same 
feeling pervades the community build- 
ings for the war communities. The 
cocking of simple roof planes has occa- 
sionally been made to yield more visual 
interest than many a Washington archi- 
tect has extracted from whole book-loads 
of classic. Rows of galvanized ventila- 
tors on one of the auditoriums make 
rhythm better than the finials of many 
an ambitious Gothic church — partly be- 
cause ventilators mean more. Well- 
considered timber trusses, though cheap, 
enliven the interiors. There are no 
frills, but wall shapes and roof shapes, 
window shapes and door shapes (which 
are the bone and muscle of architecture) 
have been handled with imaginative 
care. 

Included in these community buildings 



Or4E-ROOM SHELTERS FOR 
MIGRANTS CCOULD BE 
TENT& OR TRAILERS) | 



COMMUMITY BUILDINGS C£NTRALLY PLACED 

UEXAOONAL LAYOUT GIVES 
I EASY ACCESS ON WWEELS 




APARTMENTS POR YEAR-ROUND WORKERS 



PERMANENT HOMESTEADS 



The drawing is an air view of Yuba; but a group of imagined homesteads has been added to 
include another ingredient of the typical FSA plan 



54 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 




NUK6ERY iC«OOL 



FSA Community Center at Woodville, California 



are washrooms, toilet rooms, laundries, 
isolation wards, first-aid stations, power 
houses, sometimes a school, and always 
a social-room meeting place. Such a 
coupling of the "town" meeting room 
and school not with statues or fountains 
but with the sanitary facilities that put 
water behind the ears, makes anybody 
with a democratic temperament feel 
pretty hopeful about future America. 
The Joad children loved that shower 
house ! 

Starting with Middle River, we have 
traced a great reactivation of building. 
For the first time in our history, building 
production is undergoing something like 



a national mobilization. Prophecies are 
hard to make at a time like this, but it 
would appear that the badly needed in- 
dustrialization of building had been defi- 
nitely put under way. Of course there 
have been troubles: just as a motor racks 
a faulty frame to pieces at high speed, 
so speedy building has revealed the back- 
wardness in our methods of planning 
and finance. So progress has been com- 
pelled in these matters too; but that is a 
separate chapter. The nation that won 
its fame building the skyscrapers is at 
work again, but the job of building every- 
body a decent place to live in has a far 
broader and worthier aim. 




I 



RUSSIAN OVERTURE, 1910 



BY ALBERT SPALDING 



EARLY in 1910 I made my first trip to 
I Russia. A free-lance manager, half- 
German, half-American, by the name 
of Magnus, heard me play in Paris, 
liked my playing, and thought that there 
was a field for exploitation in the largest 
European country. He had had some 
managerial experience there, his most 
recent success having been the tour of 
Isadora Duncan, who had danced re- 
peatedly to crowded houses in St. Peters- 
burg and Moscow and had aroused great 
enthusiasm. 

Magnus had never managed a fiddler 
before, but he was not unmusical and he 
had a number of good contacts in Rus- 
sia. He offered me a contract, modest 
from a financial standpoint: I was to be 
paid a net fee of two hundred roubles 
per concert with a minimum guarantee 
of twelve concerts; AH traveling ex- 
penses and the cost of accompanist were 
to be sustained by him. It was not a 
contract destined to make one rich over- 
night, but at twenty-one I was dazzled 
by the mere prospect of spreading my 
wings toward that land of fable and 
fancy. 

I traveled via Warsaw. Magnus had 
arranged for an orchestral appearance 
in the Polish capital as a prelude to my 
first introduction to Russia proper and 
he was at the station to meet me when 
the train pulled in. It was early in the 
morning, but there were enough streaks 
of gray light filtering through the dirty 
skylights to disclose a scene of depressing 
squalor. In all corners of the over- 
crowded station unkempt, unwashed 



figures stood, sat, and lay in a kind of 
sprawled confusion. They looked, and 
were for the most part, unmistakably 
Hebraic. It was as if the combined 
ghettos of the world had disgorged them- 
selves and this Warsaw station had been 
appointed as the assembly place for the 
next trial of their patience and their 
fortitude. There was something deeply 
poignant and touching about these 
unfortunate people. It was not a pretty 
sight. But though it was a picture of 
abasement, of despair, the abasement was 
not without a certain sense of proud 
dignity, and the despair was relieved by 
streaks of unbreakable courage. 

I stood watching them while my lug- 
gage was being sought and collected. 
These activities did not move swiftly. 

"Let's get out of here," said Magnus, 
impatiently, when the last bag had been 
found; "you must be longing for a bath 
and breakfast after your long trip." 
Quite true, I was; but curiosity is per- 
haps a still stronger human impulse. 

"Tell me," I asked, "is the Warsaw 
station always as crowded as this?" 

"You mean the Jews?" said Magnus — 
there was a slight Teutonic curl to his 
lips as he spoke — "yes, it is typical. 
They crowd in here coming from Heaven 
knows where and going to — Hell knows 
less — I sometimes suspect that they are 
neither coming nor going, merely stay- 
ing. They do not trouble one much, for 
this is one country where they are taught 
to know their places. Did you ever," 
he added with an unpleasant laugh, "see 
so many dirty beards in your life?" I 



56 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



gave him a quick glance. Decidedly, I 
thought, I do not quite like you. 

We rode in a horse-drawn droshky to 
the Hotel Metropole. In the cold gray 
light of a January morning Warsaw did 
not appear an attractive city. Some 
few fine buildings could be singled out 
among many of a nondescript, character- 
less nature. 

Can it be, I wondered, that it is a 
special quality in peoples that gives 
homogeneity and a definite stamp to the 
places they dwell in? If this be so then 
it is a quality utterly lacking in the Poles. 
Their peculiar and impatient genius 
runs in other channels. 

The hotel was large and opulent. Not 
many of the personnel were yet awake. 
I had come to a land where late and not 
early hours were kept. However Mag- 
nus had quite a Prussian way of demand- 
ing and commanding, so it was not long 
before I luxuriated in a steaming hot 
bath to be followed by delicious coffee 
and crescents. 

My room was comfortable, probably 
too comfortable. I asked the price. It 
was high. I decided on more modest 
quarters, more in keeping with the 
junior fees I was to receive, and Magnus 
applauded my prudence. He gave me 
furthermore a number of valuable tips for 
economic procedure. "Did you notice," 
he asked; "no, of course you didn't, 
that when I ordered our breakfast I 
asked for two glasses of coffee — not two 
pots of coffee?" 

"But they brought us pots!" 

"Yes! That's just the point! Their 
aesthetic values would not allow them to 
serve coffee in a glass. But when the 
bill comes it will be quite a different 
matter." 

"How so?" 

"If I had ordered pots of coffee we 
should have been charged one rouble 
apiece for them. By ordering glasses of 
coffee we get and enjoy the pots but we 
pay merely twenty kopecks apiece. A 
net gain of one rouble and sixty kopecks 
on the deal." 

"I can't see any sense in that." 



"My dear fellow," laughed Magnus, 
"no one comes to Poland or Russia to 
see the sense in anything. Unless you 
are going to enjoy being bewildered, 
dismayed, enthralled, overwhelmed, you 
have most certainly come to the wrong 
corner of the earth. Above all, do not 
try to make two and two add up to four. 
Your calculation will be wrong. Guess 
at five or seven or some other indivisible 
number. The Slavs are psychic peo- 
ple — " he paused a moment — then sud- 
denly: "What year is it?" 

I spoke too quickly: "Nineteen ten!" 

"You are wrong! Here it is still De- 
cember, 1909." 

Of course I would stumble into that 
trap — the old Julian calendar thirteen 
days in arrears of ours. 

Magnus, triumphant, could be mag- 
nanimous. "That," he admitted, "was 
a mean trick. I always use it when I 
can. But I can promise you many 
other upsets of similar character. Be 
prepared to enjoy the element of sur- 
prise!" 

The concert in Warsaw went well. I 
played with the orchestra two concertos, 
the one by Beethoven and the Tschai- 
kovsky. As encores I played some un- 
accompanied Bach and, with piano, an 
interminable series of shorter numbers. 
When rehearsing with the pianist I had 
thought to prepare a maximum of three 
or four. "Not enough, not enough," 
he protested. I had learned not to 
question these dicta, so we arrived at 
the hall with an entire sheaf of short 
pieces. I found to my astonishment 
that I was destined to play them all — a 
round dozen or more! 

Two days later we took the night 
train for St. Petersburg. It was not 
late when we got on board, but we de- 
cided to turn in. "It's only on trains," 
remarked Magnus, "that one has the 
chance to go to bed early in this country. 
We might as well make the most of it." 
We did. The beds were as comfortable 
as promised. The cars were well heated; 
overheated in fact and hermetically 
sealed. It would be sacrilege to temper 



RUSSIAN OVERTURE, 1910 



57 



the precious warmth by any outside 
ventilation. I stifled a protest, resigned 
myself to insomnia from sufFocation — 
and went promptly to sleep. 

II 

Arrival at St. Petersburg station! 
What a deception. No pomp and cir- 
cumstance. Absence of color and trap- 
pings. An assortment, it seemed, of 
hastily assembled sheds, unsubstantial 
and unpretentious in character, be- 
tokened a junction point in some remote 
province rather than the famed capital 
of the Tzars of all the Russias. Once 
outside the station, however, we began 
to discover what the reality was. 

The morning was somewhat advanced, 
but there were few signs of life about. 
The broad streets carpeted with snow 
bore little traffic. Some few sleds were 
moored to the station on this sea of snow 
and ice. Asleep, upright, and in charge 
were strange figures that looked like 
bearded bears. Two of them reluctantly 
awoke to slow action after much admoni- 
tion and prodding. 

"Yes!" said Magnus, in answer to my 
unspoken question, "these are our con- 
veyances. Luggage will go in one, we 
in the other. And they are not," he 
added, "from the circus. All drivers 
look alike here." 

"How do they get such figures?" 

"They sit and they eat and they sleep. 
Sometimes in extreme youth they may 
procreate — although I doubt it. It en- 
tails too much energy!" 

"But even so . . ." 

"Even so — and besides, it is a matter 
of clothing. Over their regular attire 
they bind themselves round and round 
with a kind of thick quilting until they 
have approximated the shape of an orb 
from which a pair of arms and a head un- 
realistically protrude." 

The little sleds proceeded at a reasona- 
bly fast speed along the vast and deserted 
streets. The horses at least seemed to 
be thoroughly alive and awake. And so 
was I. It was, after all, a city of splen- 



dor, a city of color, v.vr.n if the breath of 
life were not yet stirring. Oay, some- 
times garish domes st(jod out in vivid 
blue, red, and green like intrepid bubbles 
above the gray, white, and (jchre-colored 
buildings. There was a deiici(jus tang 
in the air. The clarity of atmosphere 
had a crystalline transparency. The 
canopy of the heavens seemed to have 
been elevated much higher in these 
northern reaches. I felt no sense of cold. 

We arrived at the hotel where the 
welcoming "glasses" of cofFcc were soon 
served — coffee which seemed to have a 
special flavor. 

The Hotel de I'Europe was a combina- 
tion of European comfort and Asiatic 
ostentation. Its guests by subtle impli- 
cation were made to believe that a so- 
journ there was achieved not by means 
of roubles and kopecks, but by influential 
favor. The sense of one's own height- 
ened importance was inescapable. The 
food was marvelous. I shall never forget 
the first array of hors-d'oeuvres opu- 
lently set forth on the serving tables in 
the room adjacent to the dining hall. 
It was a meal — several meals — in and 
by itself. 

"Another timely tip of economic im- 
portance," admonished Magnus; "if you 
wish to enjoy a good meal and spend 
kopecks instead of roubles, follow me; do 
as I do." 

He ordered a vodka. 

"But I don't like vodka — and espe- 
cially at noonday!" 

"Patience, you idiot! You don't have 
to drink it. Watch me and follow suit!" 
Following suit, I furnished myself with a 
generous plate on which I proceeded to 
heap the following items: smoked fish, 
vegetable salad, cold game, mushrooms 
in cream. Delicious, incredible, eco- 
nomic. All we paid for were the vodkas 
— forty kopecks apiece. If you wished 
for more you ordered a second vodka. 
For the repeat the price was reduced to 
only thirty kopecks. 

We went to the Theatre Michel that 
night. This was the permanent French 
repertory theater. In addition to its 



I 



58 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



own excellent stock company there were 
guest artists frequently summoned from 
the Com^die Frangaise and the Od^on in 
Paris to play star paits. You could 
go every night in the week and see a 
different play each time. I enjoyed 
these performances immensely. 

'•They've got to be good," asserted 
Magnus; *'the Russian public is spoiled 
by the finest acting standards in the 
world. Wait until you see the Moscow 
Art Theater." 

The next day seemed almost endless. 
I was to play my first concert that night 
at what seemed to me the outlandish 
hour of one a.m. Magnus had certainly 
been right about the Slav reluctance to 
go to bed early. To fill up the day I 
had a rehearsal with my accompanist — 
an excellent musician by the name of 
Douloff — took a walk, lost myself, and 
got back to the hotel only through the 
clairvoyancy of some sled drivers. That 
evening I found to my relief that there 
was no ban on after-dinner practicing in 
my room; no one would go to bed that 
early. I shaved and dressed for the 
concert about midnight. 

On arrival at the club where I was to 
play I found the medium-sized concert 
room already thronged to capacity. 
Everyone was in evening dress. Every- 
one was talking animatedly. Some had 
come from late dinners, some from the 
theater or ballet. The hall, square and 
wainscoted with dark wood paneling, 
promised good acoustics. There was no 
stage — only an improvised platform per- 
haps one foot high which served as an ele- 
vation for the piano and solo performers. 
There were several other artists who had 
been engaged to perform, among them the 
opera singer, Maryz Koussnetzoff, tall, 
dark, good-looking with a brittle kind of 
beauty. She sang with great ease, some- 
times masking the natural hardness of her 
tones with a sudden shift of voice pro- 
duction. It was as if she had in reserve 
an invisible hood which, at will, would 
mute with a husky throatiness a tone 
that otherwise was blatantly clear and 
on the verge of harshness. 



My turn came after hers. I was tin- 
gling with a kind of nervous excitement 
that is not exactly fear and yet is threat- 
ening to the control and steadiness of a 
bow arm. It seemed impossible that 
much notice would or could be taken 
of an unknown fiddler following the 
acclaimed performance of an obviously 
favorite prima donna. 

Magnus had wanted me to start off 
with some brilliant pyrotechnics, Wieni- 
awski or Sarasate. At the last moment 
I decided otherwise and began on sober, 
low-in-key material. Some old Italian 
masters, Corelli, Tartini, and a simple 
little sonata by Handel. It was a wise 
choice. I felt sure of it from the first 
austere phrase. Koussnetzoff had ended 
her group with the most spectacular 
roulades and fireworks in the coloratura 
arsenal. The audience longed for repose. 
And who can give it in such stately meas- 
ure as those majestic old Italians? 

Even before I had finished my first 
piece I could feel running through the 
audience that wave of sympathy which 
is such an extraordinary source of 
strength to the performing artist. You 
cannot see it — you cannot easily describe 
it. But its presence — or absence — can 
often spell the difference between victory 
and defeat. There were no set pro- 
grams. The artists announced their 
numbers a piacere. I had reckoned on 
playing for fifteen or twenty minutes at 
most. I played for an hour. In the 
meantime several members of the audi- 
ence left their seats and formed a ring 
round the piano, some of them following 
the pianist's score, others fingering the 
extra music I had brought; and with the 
end of each piece there would be shouts 
for more, with specific requests. I 
glanced several times at Magnus. He 
nodded back — urging me to continue. 
It was apparent that he was more than 
satisfied. 

I had never known such spontaneous 
enthusiasm. It seemed as if, all at once, 
everyone there had become a personal 
friend. I played well; who does not 
play well under such conditions? 



RUSSIAN OVERTURE, 1910 



59 



Introduction followed introduction. 
Eager, extravagant compliments. Gould 
it all be true? But at three a.m., I re- 
flected, for once in a lifetime let's be 
recklessly self-indulgent and believe it. 
It fits so perfectly into the picture. 

Ill 

It was on that occasion that I for the 
first time met Prince Serge Wolkonsky — 
an aristocrat in the true sense. I had 
noticed him sitting near the front row of 
the audience — the fine philosophic head 
with aquiline features accentuated by a 
pointed dark beard — utterly absorbed in 
the music. He was not among the first 
who precipitated themselves to express 
Slavic enthusiasm. His terms of praise 
were more measured, but carried a note 
of deep feeling. He said, "Your music 
moves me strangely. I would like to 
know you — to talk with you. Will you 
dine with me to-morrow — No! I know 
you cannot, for you are to play again. 
Magnus has just told me. The next 
evening then?" Would I? Of course 
I would. 

"He is a good friend to have made," 
Magnus whispered to me. "I will tell 
you more about him later on. In the 
meantime you must play some more." 

"Serious or gay?" I asked. 

"Well!" said one, "it is rather late. 
Let us be gay with a Polonaise!" 

The Polonaise went with gusto. Then 
suddenly it was decided that we should 
go and finish the evening at the Islands. 

"The Islands — what Islands?" I won- 
dered and speculated how far into the 
morning we were to proceed before the 
evening could be rated as ended. 

On the Islands, it appeared, were situ- 
ated night resorts — restaurants of ultra- 
violet rays. You reached them by driv- 
ing your sleds on the Neva River itself. 
We arrived sometime before four a.m. 
The night life was just then at its maxi- 
mum and we were royally entertained. 
Caviar, buckets of it, like gray gleaming 
pearls. Champagne in magnums — mere 
quarts would have been disdained on the 



Islands — and the gypsy players! The 
gypsy singers! The group and solo 
dancing! Such playing, such singing, 
such dancing. No !- -really, a St. Peters- 
burg evening must certainly encroach on 
the morning before it is satisfyingly 
terminated! It was six o'clock when 
we returned to our hotel, and that seemed 
all too soon. I was much too exhila- 
rated to feel tired. None the less I slept 
soundly on until two o'clock the following 
afternoon. 

After our mid-afternoon breakfast I 
reminded Magnus that he was going to 
tell me something of Wolkonsky. 

"In Wolkonsky," said Magnus, "you 
have met one of the great gentlemen, one 
of the rare figures of Europe. He is 
something of a student, a philosopher, a 
poet, a musician. He has been until 
recently Intendant at the Marinsky 
Theater. His title and his wealth of 
not inconsiderable dimensions are the 
least of his attributes. He is, indeed, 
that type — now fast vanishing — an im- 
portant amateur and patron of the arts. 
In reality he belongs to the fifteenth 
century rather than to ours." 

It was quite true, I thought; it was as 
if a portrait by Sebastiano del Piombo 
had suddenly come to life in the odd 
masquerade of modern dress. 

"This evening," continued Magnus, 
"you will meet some of your 'old' friends 
of last night, but for the most part it will 
be a totally different group." 

"Shall I play the same pieces?" 

"Yes! by all means begin with your 
old Italians. I wondered at first if you 
were not knocking too modestly at the 
doors of recognition, but they seemed to 
swing wide open. You can't do better 
than repeat the process." 

"Will V/olkonsky be there?" 

"Perhaps! But in any case you will 
meet Alexander Stolypin and his sister 
Madame OfFrossimoff." 

This Stolypin was the brother of Peter 
Stolypin, the ultra-conservative prime 
minister who was so cordially hated by 
the radical elements and distrusted by 
the intelligentsia. Alexander, on the 



60 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



other hand, was by nature more of a 
liberal although he edited a conser\-ati%-e 
paper which supported government pol- 
icies. The sister. Mme. Offrossimoff,. 
was a thorough Hberal. It is said that 
when she and her elder brother met — 
which was not often — there was a tacit 
understanding that neither would make 
any mention of politics. She interested 
herself chiefly in agricultural progress and 
reforms; hved simply and adored musiCj 
as did Alexander for that matter. Peter 
rarely anended concerts. 

That evening was a replica of ihe 
first, except that the atmosphere v.as 
more sober. Instead of beginning after 
midnight, the concert was scheduled for 
the ver)' early hoijr of ten-thirt\'. Ap- 
parently agriculturists felt it necess2Lr\- 
to grant some value to daylight. The 
interest and enthusiasm were just as 
heartening and again I played more 
than I had ex{>ected to. The inevitable 
group again circled round the piano — 
the semi-formal, semi-intimate atmos- 
phere was established. Introductions 
followed. 

Alexander Stoh-pin. ponderous, florid, 
expansi^'e. slow in gesture and speech; 
his speech more related to gargling than 
to articulation; his deep laughter a kind 
of cavernous nimble; his dark and luxuri- 
ant beard an advertisement of untamed 
%'igor — he was a j>ersonalit\' that imposed 
itself by sheer weight. 

In sharp contrast was Constantin 
Skirmunt; the spare, dapper, ascetic- 
looking Pole whose clean-shaven face 
looked curiously like naked marble be- 
side the hirsute fringes affected by the 
Muscowes and whose crisp staccato 
speech was like the clarit\- of Arizona 
atmosphere after the densirs* of London 
fog. 

Skirmunt was at that time a member 
of the Council of the Empire. How 
deeply his interests and loyalty were en- 
gaged in this acti\it\' it would be im- 
possible to say. He was ardently and 
unmistakably Polish and I rather think 
that he paid lip 5er\*ice to imperial busi- 
ness in much the same manner that Irish 



members of Parliament of the nineteenth 
century- attended British interests. The 
pattern of Polish patriotism is not alto- 
gether unlike that of Ireland. 

Skirmunt had an enigmatic personal- 
ity. Under a patina of exquisite man- 
ners there was maintained an aloofness, 
a distance, registered by a kind of invis- 
ible device. The nearest approach to 
warmth was when he talked about music, 
for which he had a passion. He asked 
me if I knew Paderewski. Indeed, I 
did. I must have said the proper things 
for the glacier appeared to begin to melt. 

"Ah. yes! He is a great pianist. But 
he is far more than that. Something of 
the inarticulate soul of Poland expresses 
itself through him — some day. some day 
— perhaps . . .'' But then, as if check- 
ing something he should not say. ''Will 
you not dine with me? When and 
where?'' 

SIa\4c hospitality was prodigal. From 
the inWtations of that evening alone I 
could have dined out each night for the 
following t^vo weeks. 

The next evening I dined with Prince 
Wolkonsky. He took me to a famous 
restaurant — Donon's — which was some- 
thing of a counterpart to the Parisian 
restaurant \'oisin. There were no gilt 
or gaudy trappings about Donon's. no 
mijsic. nor entertainment. It was quite 
unlike the swanky eating places which in 
the entrance halls displayed aquariums 
from which the customer selected (pre- 
sumably) the ver\- sterlet which was 
later to be served to him. It was above 
all an eating place par excellence, where 
sepiolchral quiet, like that of a London 
club; promoted pleasant conversation. 
\Volkonsky was a delightful conversa- 
tionalist. I found that he knew my 
country. ha\ing represented Russia at 
the Congress of Religions held in Chi- 
cago during the World's Fair of 1893. 

"Ah! those Chicago ladies! They 
seemed to take life — and incidentally them- 
selves — ver\' seriously," said Wolkonsky. 

' ■ I have no doubt that you came in for 
a great deal of lionizing.'' 

''I was no hon," this with a t^vinkle. 



RUSSIAN OVERTURE, 1910 



61 



"rather I was a Daniel in a lion's den, 
but without Daniel's wisdom or his initi- 
ative. Even my feeble attempts at 
humor, tried only once or twice, came 
to abortive ends. For example, one 
evening I turned to my hostess at dinner 
and said, 'They tell me that the social 
population of New York is precisely four 
hundred. What then in your estimation 
is that of Chicago?' She paused a 
moment — as if the matter required deep 
thought — and said slowly, 'I think, 
Prince — that we are eighty.' I won- 
dered," added Wolkonsky, "how much 
farther west I must travel before having 
it announced to me that 'We, Prince, are 
seven!'" 

Wolkonsky interested himself exhaus- 
tively in where I had played, where stud- 
ied, what books I read, my knowledge of 
pictures. 

"There is in your playing," he said, 
"a distinctive quality that is quite dif- 
ferent from any I have previously en- 
joyed. You know, the refreshing sensa- 
tion one has in reading the first phrases of 
a new author whose originality of style 
impresses one. It is like the promise of 
new land one has not yet visited. I knew 
from your first phrase that I would want 
to visit the country peopled by your 
thoughts." 

I do not remember what we had for 
dinner. I'm sure it was excellent; but 
memory had other pleasures to focus 
upon. The Prince's talk that evening 
presented vistas for the future and filled 
me with determination. If I could only 
have twenty-four hours a day for twenty- 
four years to work ! 

IV 

The Russian may be an escapist from 
the routine and imposition of practical 
matters but he is prodigal with his time 
and energy when the compelling urgency 
of a new idea awakens him. The Russia 
I saw did not — as Magnus had warned 
me — always make sense. It was the 
stronghold of stark absolutism, yet be- 
hind closed doors one could hear aston- 



ishing excursions into the realm of liberal 
thought, as I learned a few evenings 
later when I dined at Madame OfTros- 
simofTs. 

Her home was as plain as she — and as 
somberly furnished. She was tall and 
gaunt; her leathery complexion was 
stretched taut over absurdly high cheek- 
bones, her chin square and determined, 
and her figure stiff' with angles. What 
humanized her was a pair of keen, intel- 
ligent, friendly eyes — eyes tired from 
tragedy, but with an abiding faith in 
goodness. I was glad to find myself 
seated next to her at the dinner table. 
She loved music and we talked some 
about it, but above all she wanted to 
question me about America. She asked 
me many things concerning agriculture. 
Alas! I knew little or nothing of it. 
As a matter of fact she, who had never 
been wdthin three thousand miles of our 
shore, enlightened me about many 
things which I should have known and 
been proud of. I asked about the re- 
forms she was advocating in Russia. 

"It is the slowest kind of work," she 
complained, "and we only progress by 
inches where there are limitless miles to 
cover. Real serfdom still persists." 

While she spoke I found myself notic- 
ing her hands. The large and generous 
palm had sensitive tapering fingers 
which mutely and almost imperceptibly 
punctuated her speech as they tapped the 
tablecloth. It was a minute muscular 
escape of the energy which drove this 
otherwise immobile figure. 

W^as it not true, I inquired, that serf- 
dom had been abolished by Alexander 
II even before the Civil W^ar ended 
slavery in our own country? 

"Yes! That is true, but actual serf- 
dom continues in spite of the emancipa- 
tion on paper. The peasant will never 
be a free man until he works on soil he 
can call his own. We have all too few of 
these. There should be millions of 
them. There shall be millions of them." 

The lady at my right sighed: it was a 
Slavic sigh — I remembered my manners 
and turned to her. We had some initial 

./-"^^ R L I N G XTTf^^ 

TrUBLIC library) 



62 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



amenities and then I discovered that she 
wanted to talk about her health — or 
rather lack of it. Of cou -se, I reflected, 
this species is to be found in all lands. 

"I suffer abominably," she mourned, 
^^Maladie du coeur — there is nothing to 
be done for it." 

She lit another cigarette. ^'I smoke 
too many of these," she explained, 
"sixty each day — they are bad for my 
heart." 

"Why do you smoke so much?" 

"Did you not know — all Russians are 
impractical — it is their destiny — I shall 
perhaps die very soon." 

This prediction seemed to comfort her, 
so I made no comment. 

"You are a musician," went on this 
desponding voice; "if I am well enough 
I shall come to hear you. Do you not 
play soon at the Salle de la Noblesse?" 
Yes, it was to be the following week. 

"Well, I shall try to come. I shall not 
enjoy it as I should. The lights are too 
bright. They hurt my eyes. And if 
you play well I shall not sleep that 
night. I often have insomnia. Please! 
You do not smoke?" 

No! I had not yet started. In fact 
I was rather appalled at such a prospect. 



"But you will in time! And you will 
smoke too much. All musicians do. It 
is very bad for them." 

I decided I would put it off as long as 
possible. 

"I see," she went on, "that you are 
not a fatalist. But I do not think that 
you can escape your destiny. I under- 
stand you perfectly. We meet for the 
first time. Perhaps we shall never meet 
again. But what does it matter? If we 
do meet again I know that you will be 
less cheerful than you are now — " Then, 
suddenly, "Are you a virgin?" she asked. 

I decided not to enlighten her. I 
found that it was not at all necessary. 
She proceeded from her infinite clair- 
voyancy to describe incidents in my life 
of which I had until then been unaware. 

"But in fact," she pronounced, "men 
remain in their hearts strangely more 
virginal than women." 

I was grateful for this back-handed 
diploma. 

"You must come and see me," she 
invited. "Perhaps I shall not receive you. 
I shall not feel well! But come never- 
theless." 

It was an advantage that I did not 
pursue ! 




HAS THE AUTOMOBILE A FUTURE? 



BY GEORGE R. LEIGHTON AND JOSEPH L. NICHOLSON 



AT 1 :31 in the afternoon of February 2, 
£\^ 1942, a Pontiac automobile was 
taken from the assembly line of General 
Motors Plant A in Pontiac, Michigan. 
It was the last passenger car made before 
the shutdown and the conversion of the 
industry to the manufacture of planes, 
tanks, and munitions. The papers were 
saying that automobiles had come to the 
end of an era. 

That was true enough, but the end of 
an era meant more than the fact that the 
war had shut off automobile manufac- 
ture. The blackout of production only 
anticipated a crisis that had been threat- 
ening the industry for years. During a 
period of twenty years, when the auto- 
mobile was becoming an essential in the 
operation of our society, the design and 
manufacture of cars had been aimed at 
the weaknesses of human nature. To an 
increasing degree utility and efficiency 
had been pushed aside to make way 
for ornament and display. Automobiles 
were driving down a blind alley. How 
were they ever to get out again? 

In 1941 there were 28,875,000 pas- 
senger cars registered in the United 
States, as against 16,750,000 in the rest 
of the world. Americans had more cars 
than 'they had telephones. Transporta- 
tion employed more than four and a half 
million trucks and 150,000 busses and 
the use of both was increasing with great 
rapidity. A series of huge industries had 
been built up on the automobile — the 
manufacture of the car itself, tires, pe- 
troleum, automotive transport, and road 
building — which, in 1940, at a time of 



widespread unemployment, required the 
labor of more than six milhon persons. 
Enormous sums of money had been made 
in the business. In 1928, before the 
payment of taxes, General Motors made 
a profit of more than 330 million dollars, 
the greatest profit ever made by any 
corporation anywhere. In 1939 pe- 
troleum and automobile manufacture led 
all industries in sales; more than three 
and a half billion dollars was spent in 
that year for petroleum products and al- 
most three billion for cars. Beyond this 
there were thousands of businesses of all 
sorts that depended on the automobile in 
one way or another. In a word, the 
automobile had become the mainspring 
of the American economy. In some re- 
spects the car makers were well aware of 
this and in the early days of the New Deal 
they were wont to exhort the President to 
do nothing that would threaten the in- 
dustry, since — in their view and that of 
many others — the fate of the country de- 
pended on it. 

What effects the war will have on 
transportation can only be guessed at at 
this stage, but it is plain that the author- 
ities have a healthy suspicion of where 
one great jam will come. On the 5th 
of March Leon Henderson said that the 
government would be doing well if it 
could assure the operation of 7^ million 
passenger cars — one-fourth of the cars in 
the country — over the next three years. 
He didn't say anything about the fact 
that in 1941 more than 14 million cars 
were owned by persons who earned 
less than $30 a week. Most of those 



64 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



persons had to have their cars in order 
to earn a Hving. The need for low-cost 

transportation had been met only inad- 
vertently — through the used-car market. 
The manufacturers, in building new cars, 
had concentrated on satisfying the public 
hunger for style and display. The Amer- 
ican people had loved the splendid-look- 
ing cars which were offered them: but in 
thispolicy of the manufacturers lay the cri- 
sis. I'ither this country will be defeated in 
this war or will win it. If we \vin, then 
at the end oi^ the war this crisis must be 
resoKed. The purpose o( this article is 
to show how this crisis came about and 
what an extraordinary opportunity is 
open to the industry. 

II 

Essentially the gasoline automobile is 
what it was when it was pur together in 
Europe toward the end oi' the past cen- 
tury. In America the pioneers were 
three mechanics. Charles Duryea, who 
worked tor a bicycle company in Chico- 
pee. Massac liusetts, made tiie first gas- 
oline car in this country in IS^''^; the 
second was planned bv Elwood Haynes 
and constructed in the machine shop o( 
the Apperson brothers in Kokomo, Indi- 
aiia, in IS^^^: the third was built by 
Heiu'v Ford, the superintendent of a 
Detroit electric-light plant, in 1S^\t. 
But actually these men had been antici- 
pated by other men abroad. 

Gottfried Daimler oi' Stuttgart pat- 
ented an automobile in the SO's. Be- 
tween him and the rirm of Panhard and 
Levassor, who bought the French rights 
to Daimler's creation, lies most ot the 
credit for the automobile as we now 
know it. Thev \s-ere responsible tor the 
combination of clutch, gears, and differ- 
ential: thev devised pneumatic tires, they 
used leaf springs. Independent suspen- 
sion had been tried on a French steam 
car in the "O's. Four-wheel brakes are 
oi' European origin: so is the Diesel en- 
gine — one of the promises for cheap 
motive power in the future. The rear- 
engined car, so often talked about, has 



existed in Europe for years. Daimler 
put the engine there in the first place 
before Levassor brought it to the front 
end of the car; later it was pushed back 
again in the air-cooled rear-engined 
Tatra car, successfully manufactured in 
Czechoslovakia before the present war. 
The rear engine was one of the principal 
features of the Volkswagen which Hitler 
promised to his followers. The chief 
invention contributed by the United 
States was Charles Kettering's self-starter 
which General Motors brought out in 
the Cadillac in 1912, For the most part 
American automobile makers have been 
satistied with refining the principle of the 
engine and chassis that the Europeans 
gave them. The genius of the Ameri- 
cans was shown, not in design, but in 
production. 

Most of the ideas on which the Ameri- 
can automobile industry was built ex- 
isted by 1^XX\ Of the individuals who 
exercised a decisive influence, perhaps 
the most important are R. E. Olds, 
Henry Ford, and \V. C. Durant, all of 
whom are alive. Ford, more than any- 
one else, was responsible for the realiza- 
tion of Eli Whitney's dream of inter- 
changeable parts. It was because of 
Ford that the farmer didn't have to 
"send oft' to the factory'' but could get 
his parts at a crossroads store. Olds, as 
much as Ford, ^vas preoccupied with the 
idea of a cheap car; in 1900 he built 1400 
of the famous Curve Dash Olds — an 
incredibly large output — which sold for 
six hundred dollars apiece. Olds also 
had ideas about the rationalization of 
manufacture, and one of his men, C. B. 
\Vilson. laid out a rudimentary system of 
progressive assembly which Ford — and 
later Knudsen, Chrysler, and others — 
elaborated and refined until it became 
the most prominent feature of American 
industry. Durant \sas the young and 
successful wagon salesman who had the 
notion of consolidation — the notion that 
by manufacturing a series of makes a car 
maker couldn't lose. It was Durant 
who turned the infant Buick into a suc- 
cess in 1 904 and then went on to organize 



HAS THE AUTOMOBILE A FUTURE? 



65 



General Motors in 1908 out of the Buick, 
the Cadillac, the Oldsmobilc, and other 
cars. "Gartercar has a friction drive; 
maybe that will he what the public 
wants," Durant is supposed to have said. 
"Elmore has a two-cycle engine; maybe 
that's the answer to motor car popular- 
ity. I want a lot of different makes 
so I will always be sure what people 
want." 

Durant's remark revealed a lot about 
the state of the industry. The woods 
were full of promoters, inventors, and 
mechanics who would get hold of a good 
feature, build a car round it, and then 
spend the last of their capital to ship the 
car to the New York Automobile Show 
and hope for orders and success. A vis- 
itor to the show thirty years ago could 
always anticipate a fresh batch of novel- 
ties. At the 1910 show, for example, 
the Owen Magnetic introduced left-hand 
steering; the torpedo body, already com- 
mon in Europe, was exhibited on the 
Franklin and other cars. What the vis- 
itor really saw was a European engine 
and chassis which the promoter had im- 
proved in some detail, hoping to make a 
fortune out of his "new" car. Some- 
times he did; more often he didn't — up 
to 1942 some 1,481 different cars had 
been devised in the United States; but 
his car remained substantially the Euro- 
pean original. Where the promoter's 
feature was successful it was promptly 
copied by other makers. This simply 
meant that as years went by American 
cars came more and more to resemble 
one another. ,^„ 

For the most part Wall Stree'i ^^g 

apathetic to the automobile; the Apj^e 

had no faith in a world where ^ 7ent- 

the Moncrief the Ideal ^a- ^ ^^^ j^' 

mobile were born m wij^j^/^^^^jj ^^^ 

and junked the next „Ut»1v 

iu . \u u -ij ^ were completely 

*u * u'l men were plungers, 

the automobj'' \ , ^ . K,,f of ^ 

many of the- and speculators, but of a 

different band. George ^<^'^'^\°^ {^^ 
Moryar& C°- ^^^ '° enraged m 1908 
wh/n aurant told him that "the time 



will come when 500,000 automobiles will 
be manufactured and sold in this coun- 
try every year" that the banker left the 
room and refused to talk business further. 
Durant's hunch was right but his vision 
seems to have included no more than a 
prospect for a huge market for cars. 
There is no evidence that he ever thought 
about what would happen if the country 
became dependent upon cars. 

In 1908 the horse and the railroad had 
scarcely felt the effect of the automobile. 
There were 90 million persons in the 
country and only 194,000 cars registered. 
But people knew about cars and they 
wanted them. A year later, in 1909, 
Ford finally fixed on Model T after a 
number of years of floundering and in- 
decision, and it was Model T that did as 
much as anything to bring about the 
dependence that Durant hadn't specu- 
lated on. The early cars of the 90's — 
the Locomobile and the Stevens-Duryea 
for example — had been luxury vehicles, 
copies of European cars and advertised 
as having European features. Their 
makers had never got beyond the notion 
that the automobile could be sold only 
to the rich. Ford and Olds seem to have 
realized that, though there were few 
persons who could pay S5,000 for a car, 
there was a growing middle class that 
was accumulating money and could be 
persuaded to pay a thousand — or less. 

In Model T's first year, 1909, the total 
production of ^// makes of cars was 123,- 
990, almost as many as the total regis- 
tered; total registration of course repre- 
sented all the cars that had ever been 
^^made in the country, minus those that 
^•^id been junked. From 1909 produc- 
spe^ began to mount with ever-increasing 
spectal ^^^ Ford's production was most 

Ford 1^1^^^ o^ ^11- 
idea* he sa?<^ ^^ patience with the luxury 
tation. Fui^ that he was selling transpor- 
that the greathermore, his theory was 
the lower the^^er the quantity produced 
down. And soHce could be hammered 
prices tell the stct was. These F.O.B. 
1909-10 and 1916-iy of Ford between 



ed 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



$950.. 


. 18,664 Model T's 


780.. 


. 34,528 


690.. 


. 78,440 


600.. 


. 168,220 


550.. 


. 248,307 


490.. 


. 308,213 


440.. 


. 533,921 


360.. 


. 785,432 



This was not the only sign that the 
automobile had moved out of the luxury 
class. The clamor for good roads had 
finally forced the Federal Government 
into highway construction in 1912, and a 
year later Carl Fisher, the Prest-O-Lite 
manufacturer, began the campaign for 
a coast-to-coast road to be called the 
Lincoln Highway. 

Then came the War. At first, during 
the war prosperity that followed 1914, 
the progress of the automobile could be 
seen most clearly in the rise of production 
figures. The output jumped from 569,- 
000 cars in 1914 to 969,000 in 1915 and 
then made a wild leap to 1,617,000 in 
1916, throwing Durant's prediction into 
the shade. In the latter year there were 
215,000 trucks registered in the country 
and production was growing. With the 
entrance of the United States into the 
war it was discovered how essential those 
trucks were. Under the pressure of a 
railroad car shortage, every available 
truck was pressed into service. The 
dazed road engineers of New Jersey 
watched the new highways, believed to 
be "semi-permanent," being pounded 
to pieces by traffic the like of which they 
had never seen. Furthermore, and quite 
suddenly, the gasoline tractor had be- 
come extremely important, because of 
war labor shortages on the farms. As^ 
for cars and trucks, they couldn't ^ 
turned out fast enough. I9jc) 

The price of cars rose until, ii^jce the 
automobiles sold for almost J^j. fQj. g^_ 
prices of 1916 — the Studebals ^q <^2 150 
ample, climbed from $1,08^ $575. Ev- 
and the Ford from $365 t in wonderful 
erything was sailing alojerl until the war 
style for the manufactvisted long after the 
boom, which had pereturn of the Army, 
Armistice and th^ 
collapsed. 



Ill 



The auto makers had not anticipated 
the smash in 1920. All of them had 
enormous production schedules and were 
going right ahead. But the price of ev- 
erything, cars included, had got higher 
than could possibly be sustained and, all 
of a sudden, people quit buying. Even- 
tually, by dint of savage price-cutting, 
the car manufacturers dug themselves 
out of the mess and with the start of the 
great boom era automobiles boomed too. 
But things were different. 

A whole series of population shifts had 
been set in motion by the War and the 
trend continued. The urban pattern of 
the nineteenth century was that of a tight 
and self-sufficient community — the orig- 
inal settlement expanded. Nearby towns 
were feeders to the cities. But with the 
War began a wholesale exodus from the 
cities to the suburbs. "They're moving 
to the country," was the common phrase. 
People left town because they wanted to 
own homes, or so they said; they wanted 
to pay lower taxes, have their children 
grow up where there were "trees and 
grass," they wanted "better schools," 
and the city was "oppressive." 

These people were moving out; those 
who had moved in during the War to 
get jobs in munition industries stayed on, 
living on the fringes of the cities. This 
growth at the city's edge was accom- 
panied by decay at the heart that 
brought abandoned slum and factory 
belts that ringed the old City Hall and 
'business districts. In the twenties mu- 
jpal officials began the loud com- 
1 ^,'! that never stopped until the war 
tween 1^ oflf in December, 1941. Be- 
old d*qt '""t^^^ 1930, for example, while 
ants th "^ Manhattan lost inhabit- 
/^^•' • • XT ''tion of Nassau County 
(adjommg New . i ^-^ ^u t 

Tni,; J • J \ • "^rk City on the Lon? 
Island side) mcreaso ..(< ^ t 

Q. J . ./ ,^ 140 per cent. In 

ot. i^ouis It was erlooiiM V j xi. .. 

+!.« r.\A «•+ • 1 ^1 V observed that 

X^l^'-'^'^'^^^^^'^e abandoned 

During these same years th^^.^^A, „f 
young people left the farms ana r^i^ to 



HAS IIIK AUTOMOBILE A FUTURL? 



67 



town; other thousands of Midwestern 
farmers sold out, put the family in the 
Ford or the Buick, and set out for Los 
Angeles to spend their declining years. 
The drought, the dust storms, and the 
fall of farm prices gave a final and ter- 
rific impetus to the migration that was 
draining the prairie States. 

But the automobile makers were 
not particularly concerned with these 
changes. They were after production, 
a problem that wasn't a problem any 
more. The automobile plants and the 
assembly lines had become the wonder 
of the world and Germans, Japs, English- 
men, and picked men from the Soviet 
Union came to study and learn how to 
do it. Fordism was a familiar word in 
the industrial dictionary. 

The question was no longer how to 
make the cars but how to sell them. In 
all the years up to the War, despite the 
ups and downs of the business, there had 
never been a selling problem. More 
people had wanted cars than there were 
cars to be had. The price was "cash!" 
and often customers had stood in line 
for months, having to be satisfied with 
vague promises of "delivery maybe next 
fall." In November, 1915, Hugh Chal- 
mers had addressed a convention of 600 
Chalmers dealers and in forty minutes 
had taken orders for his entire 1916 out- 
put of 13,000 cars at a wholesale price 
of $22,000,000. 

So, as the depression of 1920-21 light- 
ened and the boom years began, the 
auto makers found themselves in this 
position — behind them the second-hand 
cars were piling up and what was to be- 
come a big used-car industry was getting 
started. There were customers for those 
cars, customers who wanted to pay no 
more than $200, $100, or even $20. 
And the great cities were now so sprawled 
out that many of those customers had 
to have those second-hand cars to get 
from where they lived to where they 
worked. That is, a large number of the 
persons who had to have cars to earn a 
living could pay no more than a used-car 
price. 



To the manufacturer the used-car lot 
was essential il lie was to sell new cars. 
In front of iiini was a market consisting 
of the dwindling number who could pay 
cash and the great crowd who could only 
pay a fraction of the sales price. 

The first category of persons was no 
problem. It was the other which re- 
quired thought and effort if the dream 
of greater production was to be realized. 
The problem was solved in this way — 
through installment selling the car mak- 
ers were able to reach the customers 
who couldn't pay cash. As for the man 
who owned a car, he or his wife could be 
persuaded that the car he had was out 
of date. "Many may wonder," said 
Alfred Sloan, "why the automobile in- 
dustry brings out a new model every 
year. The reason is simple. . . . We 
want to make you dissatisfied with your 
current car so you will buy a new one, 
you who can afford it." 

The adoption of installment-selling 
technics came about in a rather circui- 
tous way and against the bitter op- 
position of the banks, which regarded 
installment borrowing as spendthrift im- 
providence. It began on the Pacific 
Coast in 1913. In 1915 the practice was 
taken up successfully by John Willys and 
in 1919, largely owing to the insistence of 
John J. Raskob, General Motors set up 
its Acceptance Corporation to finance 
such sales. Thereafter Ford, Chrysler, 
and the smaller fry went into the financ- 
ing business. By 1925 there was more 
than two billion dollars' worth of install- 
ment debt for new cars in this country 
and nine hundred million dollars' worth 
on second-hand cars. 



IV 

Was the automobile a necessity or a 
luxury? For thousands of people cir- 
cumstances of employment were making 
it a necessity; the industry — except for 
Ford — was trying to combine both ideas. 
The notion was acceptable to the public 
in that time when poverty was about to 
be driven from the land and when two 



68 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



cars in every garage seemed a reasonable 
aim. The best was none too good for 
the American citizen, said the car mak- 
ers; let him have transportation and 
swank combined. And the citizen was 
willing. 

The chances were that Cadillacs were 
forever beyond most citizens, no matter 
what was done with time payments. 
But what about a medium-priced lux- 
ury? In November, 1924, the Hudson 
Company brought out an Essex coach 
for $895. This master stroke was 
promptly imitated by the other car 
makers and the touring car was done 
for. Two years previously, in March, 
1922, William Knudsen — who had done 
so much to develop Ford's assembly-line 
technic — was hired by General Motors 
and put in charge of Chevrolet. The 
result was a prolonged battle with Model 
T which finally ended in 1927 when 
Model T quit. During the first four 
months of 1927 the output of Chevrolet 
was 360,000 cars against 306,000 Fords. 

The ideal of medium-priced luxury 
was now established. On the one hand 
were installment-selling technics; on the 
other there was style appeal. From now 
on the selling argument was pitched on 
power and swank; automobiles had en- 
gines that were wasteful of gas and 
furnished more power than was needed; 
the stylists were brought in to work on 
color and upholstery and metal trim and 
glass. 

But very little was done toward reduc- 
ing operating costs. Never in the 
United States had an automobile been 
designed from a functional standpoint. 
The Europeans had originally put a gas 
engine in a carriage meant for horses and 
American makers had never done more 
than refine the original contrivance. 
The self-starter had been added, a more 
powerful engine put under the hood, 
steel bodies had replaced wood, de- 
mountable rims had eased the pain of 
tire-changing, but it was still, under all 
its sheen and enamel, essentially the old 
cinder buggy. 

An English automotive engineer at a 



congress commented sourly on these de- 
velopments: "For too long it has been a 
common experience that a new vehicle, 
of which every part was known to be ex- 
cellent, would prove a disappointment 
on the road. Generally this meant that 
in the few weeks before production 
started there was a desperate rushing to 
and fro with springs of various rate, 
wedges for adjusting the caster, bending 
bars for variously distorting the steering 
linkage and so on. So that while the 
new model was announced to the public 
with a great blare of trumpets as the 
final triumph of a group of superior in- 
tellects, the poor engineers would be 
wondering whether it would stay on the 
road." In the discussion which fol- 
lowed these remarks another engineer 
was moved to say: "With regard to the 
inaccessibility [of the engine] of Ameri- 
can cars I cannot agree that it is a matter 
of deliberate policy to prevent the user 
from tampering with the machinery. It 
is my impression that the designer draws 
a picture of what he thinks will sell; then 
he pours in the mechanism and hopes 
for the best." 

It was style appeal that finally brought 
about what one automobile man called 
"the perversion of automotive engineer- 
ing." The manufacturers, early in the 
twenties, brought in the stylists, who of 
course were not engineers at all, and set 
them to work. At first their designs 
were repudiated by the engineers as im- 
possible. But the pressure of competi- 
tion was acute and eventually the engi- 
neers gave way, here on one point and 
there on another until, at length, they 
were all but pushed aside. Originally 
the engineer had been on a level with 
the chief executive and the sales man- 
ager. In the early days the three func- 
tions might be combined in one person. 
But those days were gone; now the engi- 
neer had to accept the stylist's dream and 
somehow make it work. 

The public was unaware of all this. 
Quite apart from any question of utili- 
tarian necessity, the automobile had be- 
come a psychological necessity to mil- 



HAS THE AUIUMOBILE A EUIURL 



69 



lions of Americans. With ihc assistance 
of time payments, almost every man 
could now own his own locomotive. 
When the Lynds got to Muncic in 1923 
to collect the material for Middlelown^ 
they found the preachers railing at auto- 
mobiles and people saying *T never 
missed church or Sunday School for thir- 
teen years and I kind of feel I've done my 
share" and "We'd rather do without 
clothes than give up the car." Ten 
years later, when the authors went back 
to Muncie to revise their work, they 
found that 10,000 persons left town every 
Sunday in automobiles and more than 
3,000 persons depended on local auto- 
motive plants for their jobs. 

Home ownership lost its attraction. 
A real estate man in Minneapolis came 
to the conclusion during the First World 
War that the belief in home ownership 
was gone. He sold every dwelling that 
he had and put the money into corner 
lots on the fringes of the city and sat 
back to await the coming of the filling 
stations. Thousands mortgaged their 
homes to buy cars. Ten years later, dur- 
ing the depression, it was common for 
young people who were buying both 
home and car on time to give up the 
home and keep the car. 

The banks were no longer hesitant; 
not with the finance companies reaping a 
golden harvest and, calling themselves 
"the nation's transportation bankers." 
People were urged to borrow; incidents 
are recalled of bank-loaning ofl^cials 
urging people to borrow more than they 
asked for, to take $300 instead of S200. 
Some years later the National City Bank 
in New York installed the Muzak system 
in the Personal Loan Department, which 
dispensed sweet music to please waiting 
customers. "What tunes are played 
when the note falls due?" asked a wise- 
cracker. "The banker to-day is not 
preaching the gospel of his predecessors of 
fifty years ago," said a banker. "Their 
philosophy was 'Save, regardless of how 
you live. Do without necessities and es- 
sentials if you have to, but save!' . . . 
Happily, bankers to-day advise people to 



save on an entirely different basis. . . . 
The banker has long recognized the dif- 
ference between the spendthrift and the 
fellow who uses most of his money to im- 
prove his standard of living. ... So far 
as industrial progress is concerned, it is 
generally agreed that the United States 
is years ahead of any other nation in the 
world. More of its people enjoy such 
comforts as automatic heat, electric re- 
frigeration, and air conditioning than 
any other people. Then what of the fel- 
low who preaches 'Don't buy until you 
can pay cash'? His is a good philosophy, 
but, fortunately for industry, millions in 
America do not follow its teachings." 

The small-town merchants had mixed 
feelings about all this. They had agi- 
tated for good roads before automobiles 
existed; they wanted the Saturday trade 
all right; but they weren't all getting it. 
The National Retail Clothier told about a 
local store whose Saturday sales had in 
the past disposed of 150 suits and over- 
coats. In 1923 only 17 suits and over- 
coats were sold at that sale — while the 
car agency across the street disposed 
of 25 cars, on time, the same day. The 
reason was, "We'd rather go without 
clothes than give up the car." 

It was in the midst of the great style 
wave — in 1927 — that Model T quit. 
Ford had felt the pressure of style and 
color for some time. He had gone on 
cutting prices — in December, 1924, the 
price of the Model T roadster (without 
rims or starter) had reached the record 
low of ^260. Early in the twenties, for 
the first time in years, he had begun to 
spend money on advertising. But other 
cars looked better than Model T, offered 
more luxury, and were crowding him 
badly. 

What was Ford to do? He had dis- 
dained luxury and said that he was sell- 
ing transportation. He was in possession 
of one of the largest integrated in- 
dustrial plants in the world — geared to 
produce one thing with men trained to 
make that one thing. If he was to quit 
making Model The had two choices. He 
could set his men to the design of a com- 



70 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



pletely new car, a true engineering job 
that would take advantage of every new 
development that had occurred, and 
then make and sell it for a really low 
price. He could come through at last 
with "the $300 car." The base market 
for this car would be those persons who, 
in one way or another, actually had to 
have cars in order to make a living. 
The other choice was to do what the rest 
were doing, aim for volume with a 
medium-priced car which essentially 
was like the other cars. He made the 
second choice. When Model A finally 
appeared in December, 1927, it proved 
to be a medium-priced "replacement" 
car. All talk about $300 and selling 
transportation was over. 

Having made the choice, the industry 
stuck to it. By the close of 1929 there 
were 23 million passenger cars in the 
United States. Four and a half million 
of them had been made that year and 
about 70 per cent of them were sold on 
time. 

V 

The role of the automobile in the de- 
pression was peculiar. Of course the 
industry suffered with the rest; Michigan 
was the place where the bank holiday 
began and Detroit was full of jobless 
men. But in a strange way the automo- 
bile was taken both as a scapegoat and a 
cure. Moralists told stories like this: "Is 
it true," said the onlooker to the man in 
the breadline, "that your family is starv- 
ing?" "If you don't believe it," was the 
reply, "I'll drive you over to our place 
and you can see for yourself that there's 
nothing in the house to eat." On the 
other hand, before the fact of unemploy- 
ment was admitted people would say, 
"A man can always get a job at a filling 
station," and after the fact became ad- 
mitted people argued that the cars would 
get us out of hard times. 

It would have been easier to argue that 
cars, trucks, and tractors had altered the 
landscape almost beyond recognition. 
Between 1915 and 1941 eleven million 
horses and mules had vanished from the 



farms and along with them other mil- 
lions of horses used in the towns. A 
third of American farm land used to pas- 
ture and grow food for these animals had 
been released for other purposes. The 
consolidation of rural schools had revolu- 
tionized the mechanics of elementary ed- 
ucation. By 1940 there were 93,000 
busses carrying 3,967,000 school children 
every day. By 1939 long-haul busses 
carried almost as many passengers as the 
railroads — 215,236,144 passengers for the 
busses against 219,923,055 for the trains! 
Of course the number of passengers taken 
away by privately owned passenger cars 
were, in the eyes of despondent rail men, 
as many as the sands of the sea. In 1 940 
there were more than a million trucks on 
farms and the getting of crops to market 
was dependent on trucks. A long list of 
cities including Atlanta, St. Louis, Kan- 
sas City, Omaha, Los Angeles, Hartford, 
and Grand Rapids received all their milk 
by truck. With long-haul freight, the 
trucks were gaining steadily on the rail- 
roads and by 1 940 the trucking industry 
employed four million persons. In the 
case of specific businesses, trucks had 
practically superseded rail freight alto- 
gether. At the Pratt Sc Whitney air- 
craft plant at Hartford, for example, 
nine-tenths of the materials received 
came by truck and the whole of the prod- 
uct shipped went the same way. 

In addition to this evidence of the deep 
hold that the automobile was getting on 
the American economy, there were other 
developments that came with the depres- 
sion. The need to save money boomed 
the tourist camps. By 1940 there were 
20,000 of them in the country, double 
the number doing business in 1935. An- 
other phenomenon was the trailer, sup- 
posedly invented in 1929. The trailer 
was originally regarded as an ingenious 
device for vacation use; but by 1940, 
with more than 600 trailer manufac- 
turers in the business, it had been dis- 
covered that many people bought trailers 
because of what they believed to be 
necessity. Many of these persons were 
skilled workers, constantly on the move 



HAS THE AUTOMOBILE A FUTURE? 



71 



for jobs. By October, 1941, a govern- 
ment official estimated that as many 
as 50,000 migrant defense workers owned 
their own trailers. Near Alexandria, 
Louisiana, for example, there was a 
town of two thousand trailers, with trailer 
grocery stores and churches and a trailer 
post office. An entire settlement of this 
character could pick up when one job 
was finished and move on to another. 

But the clincher that showed what the 
automobile had done was the continuing 
sprawling out — begun during the First 
World War — of the great industrial and 
urban centers on the Coast, in Texas, 
and from the Great Lakes eastward. 
Between 1930 and 1940 the parent 
municipalities of Boston, Philadelphia, 
Cleveland, and St. Louis showed absolute 
declines in population. When defense 
production began it was soon seen that 
by far the greater number of war con- 
tracts must go to these same proliferating 
and "disintegrating" urban centers. An 
analysis early in 1941 showed that 85 per 
cent of the war contracts were going 
to twelve States. Where the contracts 
went men looking for defense jobs fol- 
lowed. 

Numerous persons, aware of the huge 
amount of automobile traffic in the coun- 
try but ignorant of the character of the 
great migrations, had clamored through 
the depression years for the construction 
of six national toll highways, three to 
cross the country from east to west and 
'three from north to south. The tolls 
would pay for the road construction and 
the building would provide for tens of 
thousands of the jobless. The publica- 
tion, in April, 1939, of the Bureau of 
Public Roads' remarkable report ex- 
ploded these notions. 

The report showed that, relatively, the 
amount of transcontinental traffic was a 
mere trickle and that the six great high- 
ways, if built, would be "useless." The 
great bulk of the traffic — and it was in- 
creasing every year — was in the neigh- 
borhood of the urban centers or back and 
forth between them. Here was where 
most of the 27 million cars were traveling 



in round trips of less than fifty miles. 
The junction of Routes 21, 25, and 29 
near the Newark, New Jersey, airport 
was called the worst point of traffic con- 
gestion in the country. By July, 1941, 
the daily average traffic volume there 
was 100,000 cars. The average value of 
the cars was $1 97; more than half of them 
belonged to families with less than S30 a 
week to live on. 

This was the state of affairs when, in 
November, 1941, the rationing of tires 
was announced; production of cars had 
already been cut, and on January 2, 
1942, the word was given that after 
February no more cars would be made at 
all. There the industry was: in the cen- 
ter three giant corporations — Ford, Gen- 
eral Motors, and Chrysler — trailed by a 
handful of independents — Studebaker, 
Nash, Hudson, and Packard. Round 
them were grouped two hundred com- 
panies manufacturing automobile parts. 
In 1941 the industry had turned out 
3,750,000 cars, a bigger output — save for 
1937 — than in any year since 1929. In 
1941 more than 70 per cent of the cars on 
the highways had been bought on time; 
25 cars sold were second-hand to every 10 
new cars that found buyers. Now "the 
era was over." 

The era might be over but the neces- 
sity for cars was not. When the luxury 
cars are taken away and the middle- 
priced cars that are used mostly for 
recreation and the cars that are used 
mostly for convenience, such as meeting 
the 5:40 every night, it will still be found 
that there is an irreducible minimum — 
and a big one — necessary to operate the 
the country during a war. Boston, Phil- 
adelphia, Cleveland, and other towns 
have taken their old street cars out of 
storage; there's a limit to them and very 
few new electric cars and busses will be 
built. Demand for transportation in the 
big centers is increasing. In Baltimore, 
for example, in February, nearly all the 
workers in the big Martin aircraft plant 
went to work in cars. The Pennsylvania 
Railroad runs right by the plant, but the 
management, under the pressure of war 



72 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



transport problems of its own, said that 
it would be impossible to provide the 10 
locomotives, the 100 coaches, and the 30 
train crews that would be needed for 
the 60 trains a day that the employees of 
this one factory would require. In Michi- 
gan it was expected that the Ford air- 
craft plant would employ more than 
50,000 workers when in full operation, 
and that most of them would have to 
commute from Detroit by car. Prac- 
tically all of the thousands who work at 
one big aircraft plant in Texas come and 
go by car. These are war contract 
operations. If we are to feed ourselves 
and send food to others there is a limit to 
the number of the trucks that can be 
given up by the farms, tires or no tires. 
There are 48,000 communities in this 
country completely dependent upon high- 
way transportation; 872 cities have no 
means of mass transportation other than 
busses. 

VI 

What had the manufacturers been 
doing during the ten years that preceded 
the February, 1 942, Day of Judgment? 
For the most part they had given them- 
selves up to a stylists' bender. Year by 
year the eccentricities of design in- 
creased. Just before the end preoccupa- 
tion seemed to be focussed on more florid 
and fantastic radiator grilles and the 
problem of putting eyelids on the head- 
lights. 

The debasement of the automotive en- 
gineer had been brought to such a pass in 
the late 30's that he was put to it to make 
the new cars run as well as the old ones. 
The wrenching of machinery to fit the 
stylist's shapes had almost reached its 
limit. Of course all this while the cus- 
tomer had been getting more power, 
more weight, and a longer wheel base for 
his money, as these figures show: 

Weight 

Ford Chevrolet Plymouth 

1929 2336 lbs. 2500 lbs. 2380 lbs. 

1941 3121 lbs. 3090 lbs. 2889 lbs. 

Horse Power 

1929 40 46 45 

1941 85 90 87 



Wheelbase 
Ford Chevrolet 

1929 103K inches 113 inches 



1941, 



* Estimated. 



[12 inches 



Plymouth 
108* inches 
107 inches 117K inches 



From the point of view of low-cost 
transportation, wherein was the intrinsic 
merit of these increases? There wasn't 
any. 

The passion for getting the body close 
to the ground had caused more mechan- 
ical distortions; the introduction of small 
wheels made braking diflScult. Hoods 
drawn out to exaggerated lengths con- 
cealed engines that appeared relatively 
tiny when exposed. It was estimated 
that non-collision accidents had in- 
creased 13 per cent since the engine had 
been put over the front axle. The auto- 
mobile was approaching the dinosaur 
stage with windshields that were all but 
impossible to see out of. 

Now circumstance has junked the 
dinosaur while the necessity for cars re- 
mains. What are the prospects when 
manufacture is resumed? Will the car 
makers, fearful of change and risk, decide 
to start in again making dinosaurs? There 
will be a huge market waiting for any 
kind of car, the used-car supply will have 
been much depleted, millions of cars will 
have been junked. Will the customers 
be given what they had before or some- 
thing radically new? 

A great deal will depend on the out- 
come of the war. If a large part of the 
national income continues to go into 
armament, if there is a long decline in 
the standard of living, then cars will 
have to be cheaper. Some things are 
certain. The old assembly lines and ma- 
chinery are gone; when cars are made 
again it will be done from scratch. This 
will provide the opportunity never 
known before really to design a car. If 
that is done what sort of a car will it be? 

What is now available — or will be 
available — for the manufacture of a new 
car? In the first place, the Germans 
have already shown that with aluminum 
and magnesium a strong car can be built 
that weighs a third less than American 



HAS THE AUTOMOBILE A FUTURE? 



73 



models. The German MOM car was 
such a one; it made remarkable speed 
records in 1938 and in 1939. In this 
country, under war pressure, the produc- 
tion of aluminum and magnesium is 
being enormously expanded. Alumi- 
num production in 1935 was 119 million 
pounds; it was about 600 million in 1941 
and more millions are coming. Though 
the demand for civilian planes will no 
doubt be very great, still the chances are 
that the aluminum supply will be so huge 
that the automotive engineers will have 
all they need. 

Little has been done to bring the effi- 
ciency of the automobile engine up to the 
standard of the airplane engine. The 
weight of some plane engines is only one- 
sixth of the weight of a car engine per 
horsepower. The automobile manufac- 
turers certainly have an opportunity here 
to exercise their ingenuity. The mate- 
rials and the knowledge are available 
to build a light, powerful engine that 
will climb hills and produce the speed to 
cruise at 50 to 60 miles an hour and not 
waste gas doing it. The two principal 
opportunities are for the improvement of 
the engine using high-octane gas and for 
the adaptation of the Diesel engine to 
passenger car use. 

The search for new body materials has 
led to the trial use of various plastics. 
Ford has already cast body panels from 
plastic and if the material so far has 
shown serious shortcomings, no prob- 
lems are involved that appear insoluble. 

Experimental work in design has been 
going on for years. One of the best- 
known entirely new cars was the Scarab, 
designed and built by William B. Stout 
in 1935. In this car the air-cooled en- 
gine was moved to the rear, the driver 
put over the front wheels, the ceiling 
hoisted, the body sealed and air condi- 
tioned, and chairs used instead of fixed 
seats (all but the back seat, which was so 
contrived in its dimensions that it could 
be comfortably used as a bed). 

Recently Mr. Stout has been at work 



on still another new car, very light in 
weight, built in .sections of plywofxi and 
other light and strong materials wiili a 
40 horsepower engine that will make 50 
miles on a gallon of gas. Mr. Stout be- 
lieves that the second-hand car lot can be 
put out of business with this car if dealers 
stock not only parts but body pieces and 
engines for replacement as well. 

Mr. Stout is an example of the sort of 
inventor who puts numerous automobile 
men into exasperated rage, since he is 
perpetually trying to do "the impos- 
sible." He has worked at every sort of 
automobile job. He built the first in- 
ternal-strut cantilever plane in America, 
the first commercial monoplane, the first 
all-metal torpedo plane for the Navy. 
He has experimented with all types of 
mechanical locomotion. Automotive en- 
gineers will sometimes grunt "poet" at 
the mention of his name and then grunt 
the harder when the distortions of their 
own vehicles are pointed out. Yet it is 
from men like him that the new cars must 
come. 

But the biggest changes of all are 
likely to come from the enforced co-oper- 
ation of the plane and automobile indus- 
tries in war production. Automotive 
engineers have to work on planes now; 
plane designers are discovering a great 
deal about automobile manufacture. 
It has been argued that the auto man- 
ufacturers are fed up with the troubles of 
their own industry and are glad of the 
chance to show how planes can be mass- 
produced, that plane engineers marvel 
at the ossification of automobile design 
and only await the end of the war to 
show how a real car can be made. 

The economics and the politics of the 
post-war era will largely determine 
whether we shall get the car that the en- 
gineers are now able to make. But cars 
we shall have to have and if Ford is too 
old and other manufacturers are hesi- 
tant, then, since car making will start 
from scratch, perhaps some younger men 
will show what can be done. 



;uc library; 



POEMS OF A TENNESSEE FARM 

BY GEORGE SCARBROUGH 

I HAVE A LONELY HEART 

I HA VE a lonely heart. . . . I pitch and toss 
The sun-sweet clover in the wind for drying; 
The shadowless, cool wind is at a loss 
To understand, I know, why I am crying. 
I shoulder up my fork and move along 
The slanting field to work another stubble. 
The beautiful, soft wind is clean and strong. 
I have a lonely heart. . . . I cry my trouble 
About the grass roots and the wild, sweet clover, 
I water down the fragrant summer dust; 
The beautiful, cool wind is blowing over — 
It is no time for weeping, yet I must. 
I have a lonely heart. . . . My heart is saying, 
" What is the good of one man in the haying?^"* 

CUTTING SOD-LAND 

UNDER the bright disk the frog^s blood was much brighter, 
In sod-land rested five years, farmed in one. 
I must confess my heart was something lighter 
Before the harrow brought thefrog^s blood gleaming in the sun. 

Bright as a scarlet fiower sudden to the eye, 
I must confess the blood leaped from the furrow. 
Dazzled the clod with light caught from the sky 
Mingled with light turned from the black-dark burrow. 

Even the burrow itself showed its intense surprise 

To find in its shallow room the harbor of such color. 

Even as I turned down my sickened eyes. 

Steadied the quaking heart, the ground at my feet was duller 

Than sunlit field had ever shone before 
With something wild and puzzled, something pale. 
With finding out of that bright drip and pour. 
I must confess now, now I must not fail 

To make a full confession. Bright was the harrow^ s power. 
Bright were the twelve disks driving, pulling in the sun: 
Polished and bright as a white fiint quarry tower. 
In sod-land rested five years, farmed in one. 

Tet bright as the disk, the frog's blood was much brighter; 

Spilled on the earth, undarkened by the ground. 

It cried to my heart, it wept for an hour much lighter. 

It called for the wind and sun with an endless, scarlet sound. 



POEMS OF A TENNESSEE FARM 75 

AN INDIGO BIRD IN THE GDI. DEN RYE 

ISA W as I was passing by, 
And lije^ I Jound, was in the seeing. 
An indigo bird in the golden rye. 
The bird in the rye was Jieeing, fleeing. 

I saw as I was passing by 
An indigo bird and a basic head 
OJ yellow, fundamental rye. 
Ij I remembered Reuben dead 

When I was passing by that stand 
OJ golden crop, that fleeing blue, 
It is the way that Pd command, 
Lost heart, to be remembered too. 



CUTTING CEDAR POSTS 

OUT where the bluff was not a bluff at all, 
Only a wall of stone up to the waist 
Or thereabout, I felled a strong, dark tree. 
I found therein so strong a smell and taste 

Of cedar wood, my teeth were set on edge 
Against my lips, my teeth ached in my jaws, 
I swung my axe in pain among the boughs, 
I dressed the trunk, not taking any pause 

Until the tree was straight along the ground 
And honey-colored rings caught up the light 
Along the top where heavy limbs had been. 
I piled them up; the heap was dark as night 

Out in the sun. I took the one-man saw 
And knelt in leaves to cut the post-lengths out: 
I sawed them evenly, I split them so 
That none was left to wear an awkward snout 

To add work to the holes. The dust was wild 
In honey-colored fans upon the ground; 
The waist-high bluff was split across the face 
Where the dark tree had leaped and slithered down. 

I took my saw and wedge, I took my maul; 
With one last glance, I took the ridge road in. 
My teeth were easy now — my heart was hurt 
To see the place where that strong tree had been. 



rsssPJ2ir\ 



A CAREER FOR COLLEGE GIRLS 



BY DOROTHY DUNBAR BROMLEY 



MANY college girls are casting about, 
wondering in what direction they 
should turn after graduation. They 
may vaguely remember reading in the 
newspapers that student nurses are 
needed — fifty thousand of them in 1 942. 
But as a class they do not yet realize that 
they themselves may be well equipped to 
meet this shortage; that there is impor- 
tant war work waiting for them in the 
hospitals on the home front. 

Even before Pearl Harbor the hospitals 
could not fill ten thousand staff positions 
that were going begging for want of 
qualified graduate nurses. Yet they 
managed in 1941 to take care of ten mil- 
lion patients — an ever-increasing load. 
To-day, as they are stripping their staffs 
to send nurses with our armed forces 
overseas, the situation is still worse. To- 
morrow, as more thousands of nurses are 
called out by our growing Army, it will 
become acute. 

Let such an epidemic as we suffered in 
the last war strike us, or an air raid on 
one of our coastal cities, or a sabotage 
blow in a war-production center, and 
then it will be too late for young women 
to rush into nurses' uniforms. "Nurses 
wanted now^^ is the cry. Nurses' aides, 
part-time volunteer workers, will be of 
some assistance; but most needed, says 
the Nursing Council on National Defense, 
are well-educated mature young women 
who will become student nurses and, after 
a four to six months' probationary course, 
take the place in the wards of graduate 
nurses who have been called to military 
duty. 



All of this the college senior may read 
in the newspapers if she is not too busy 
studying for examinations, but it may 
make little impression on her. Volunteer 
as a nurse's aide in the summer — why 
not? But go into nursing as a profession 
and immolate herself in a hospital? All 
sorts of doubts assail her. 

Perhaps she would think twice about 
nursing as a career if she were told the 
story of a group of college women who 
were drawn into the profession by the 
last war. In the summer of 1918 five 
hundred graduates of 117 different col- 
leges collected on the Vassar campus to 
take a pre-clinical nurses' training course. 
Doctors were there from Harvard and 
other medical schools, as well as the finest 
teachers in the nursing profession. En- 
thusiasm and patriotism ran so high that 
more than half of the 500 entered nursing 
schools in the autumn, pledging them- 
selves to stay with the profession at least 
for the duration. They reached the 
hospitals just as the influenza epidemic 
broke out, and that was a test of their 
fortitude. But they stood by and when 
the Armistice released them from their 
pledge, 169 chose to continue their nurs- 
ing course, despite the unevenness of 
hospital training in those days. Now, 
twenty-four years later, these "Vassar 
Campers" are directors of leading nurs- 
ing schools and public-health agencies. 
Though most of them were attracted to 
nursing by the chance of war, the Vassar 
Campers are now among the most fer- 
vent advocates of nursing as a rewarding 
profession for college women. 



A CAREER FOR COLLEGE (;IRLS 



77 



Last summer, before we were al war, 
a similar ten-weeks' eainj) was hastily 
organized on the Hryn Mawr campus. 
Of the 30 college graduates who at- 
tended, 22 have since entered nursing 
school. There too enthusiasm ran high. 
"At last we feel useful," said the pre- 
clinical students; "we know that we are 
preparing to do work that is important." 
Unexpected abilities were developed; 
for example, a girl who had majored in 
Italian at Bryn Mawr took honors in the 
science courses, so keen was her interest, 
and now is continuing her course in a 
famous hospital school in the East. This 
summer a similar camp on a larger scale 
will be held at Bryn Mawr. 

I asked the chairman of the Nursing 
Council's recruitment committee why 
girls who have had from two to four years 
of college are especially wanted as stu- 
dent nurses. "Because," she explained, 
"they are more mature, they can grasp the 
science courses more quickly, can be de- 
pended on in such emergencies as we 
may face during the war, and after com- 
pleting their course can advance more 
rapidly in the profession." For teaching 
and administrative positions as well as 
for public-health work a college degree 
is now required. 

None of us knows what the post-war 
period will be like, but it is a safe predic- 
tion that well-qualified nurses will be 
needed in large ritimbers. We still 
have in this country 857 counties without 
a single public-health nurse and many 
urban communities are poorly supplied. 
Inevitably we are moving into a collec- 
tivist society so far as welfare agencies are 
concerned. Public-health nursing can 
be expected to become as important a 
field for college women as teaching, and 
perhaps more important than social 
service per se. 

The present need is patent, the future 
opportunities for service are clear, and 
a reasonable hope of economic security 
in the future is not to be discounted. 
Still, large numbers of college girls are 
not likely to be attracted to the profes- 
sion, even in the stress of wartime, so 



long as tliey think it is a little beneath 
tiiem; and undeniably many of them do 
think so. Perhaps this fact and the rea- 
sons for it and the answer to it will bear a 
brief examination. 



II 

Nursing, it must be iidmitted, has had 
its ups and downs as a life work for 
women. The brilliant and gently bred 
Florence Nightingale raised it to the 
status of a profession when she forced the 
British military authorities to establish 
minimal nursing and sanitary standards 
in the Crimea, and when she founded at 
home nursing schools under the direction 
of nurses, not doctors. For years nursing 
and teaching were the two fields open to 
women who wished a career of their own, 
but only the courageous and the conse- 
crated left sheltered homes to become 
nurses. 

With the advent of the First World 
War many leisure-class women wanted 
to become military nurses overnight, but 
although in this country a certain num- 
ber were allowed to go to France as 
nurses' aides, the burden of the work had 
to be carried by the professionally trained. 
Thus the War momentarily raised the 
prestige of the profession. But simul- 
taneously it released the energies of 
women in many other directions at 
home; and after the War college women 
were able to pour by the thousands into 
all manner of jobs in business. Faced 
with this growing competition in oppor- 
tunity, the profession of nursing had hard 
sledding during the nineteen-twenties. 

It suffered from many disadvantages 
compared with the new jobs open to 
women. Some hospitals conducted train- 
ing schools not Vv^orthy of the name, ad- 
mitted students indiscriminately (in- 
cluding candidates with less than a 
high-school education), worked them 
long hours in the wards, and gave them in 
return little supervision and classroom in- 
struction. As a result many of the nurses 
they turned out were ill-prepared or ill- 
qualified, and they soon became as dis- 



78 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



contented with their lot as patients and 
doctors were with their performance. 
The economic impasse which the pro- 
fession had reached by 1930 was de- 
scribed in an article of mine entitled 
"The Crisis in Nursing" published by 
Harper* s Magazine in July of that year. 

Faced with the crisis, the leaders of 
the profession — women who compare 
well with Florence Nightingale in in- 
tellect and vision — redoubled their ef- 
forts to raise teaching standards and the 
level of professional practice. Since 
their position was socially and medically 
sound, they won their fight. But they 
worked so quietly that the public has re- 
mained almost unaware of the reforms 
that have been achieved; the impression 
has remained in many minds that nurses 
have to go through a slavish and humili- 
ating training, and that the profession 
offers such meager rewards and privi- 
leges compared with business that a girl 
with good education and high spirit 
would do well to shun it. This impres- 
sion has not made it any easier for the 
profession to attract the best talent dur- 
ing the past two decades. 

Meanwhile, however, actual condi- 
tions have vastly improved. There is 
still a wide range of difference between 
the superior nursing schools and the in- 
ferior, but all of them now require at 
least a high-school education. The di- 
rectors of the better schools are well- 
educated women and the old battle-axe 
type of superintendent of nurses is on her 
way out. Daytime hours of service in 
the wards do not exceed forty-eight a 
week in a majority of the schools. Maids 
and porters do the cleaning, and hos- 
pitals no longer depend on student 
nurses to carry the entire nursing load in 
the wards. Fifteen years ago the ma- 
jority of hospitals which conducted nurs- 
ing schools had not a single general-duty 
nurse on their pay rolls, as distinct from 
supervisors and teachers and special- 
duty nurses employed by private pa- 
tients. In 1941 the hospitals were em- 
ploying 109,000 staff nurses, and jobs 
were available for many more. Thanks 



to the rapidly growing group-hospitaliza- 
tion plans, the hospitals have had a 
steadier source of income and have found 
it possible to increase their pay rolls. 
During the war, it is true, the ratio of 
staff nurses to students will have to be 
cut down, but training conditions in the 
hospitals will remain much better than 
they were fifteen and twenty-five years 
ago. 

The most important development of 
recent years has been the rapprochement 
between the colleges and the schools of 
nursing. To-day most schools of nurs- 
ing, in States where the registration act 
permits, give from two to nine months' 
credit for suitable college work, thus 
shortening the usual three-year clinical 
course. 

The colleges on their side have come to 
recognize the educational content of 
clinical hospital work. A new chapter 
in nursing was written in 1 922 when the 
Yale University School of Nursing, sub- 
sidized by the Rockefeller Foundation, 
was organized on a collegiate basis, and 
in the Middle- West the Western Reserve 
School of Nursing was founded by Mrs. 
Frances Payne Bolton, now Congress- 
woman from Ohio. Since then other 
schools have formed university connec- 
tions, among them two of the famous old 
schools, Presbyterian and New York 
Hospital. There are now all told sev- 
enty-five schools of nursing affiliated with 
large and small universities and colleges, 
some offering a better clinical course 
than others. They give a four- or five- 
year combined course leading to a nurs- 
ing diploma and a baccalaureate degree, 
and accept students who have had from 
two to four years' work in other colleges. 

As the catalogue of the Russell Sage 
School of Nursing puts it, "Nursing has 
become a highly skilled profession re- 
quiring a wide background of knowledge 
and broad sympathies, as well as tech- 
nical skills. . . . The demand for such 
nurses is greater than the supply." 

A significant trend is the close integra- 
tion between the school of nursing and 
the college of liberal arts at a number of 



A CAREER FOR COLLEGE GIRLS 



79 



the Midwestern and Western Institutions. 
Students of the University of Washington 
nursing school arc chgible for Phi Beta 
Knppa and Sigma Xi. There, as at the 
Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin, 
student nurses arc frequently sorority 
members. The very fine University of 
California nursing school draws its stu- 
dents from the Berkeley campus as well 
as from the State's junior colleges, and 
always has a waiting list. 

In the conservative East nursing has 
risen more slowly in the college girl's 
scale of values, but a certain number of 
girls, frequently daughters of professional 
families, have always gravitated toward 
the famous hospital schools at Johns 
Hopkins, Massachusetts General, Pres- 
byterian, Bellevue, and New York Hos- 
pital. Of recent years an increasing 
number of Eastern college girls have been 
attracted to the Yale School. Yale 
admits only college graduates, has a 
broad curriculum emphasizing psychia- 
try and public health, gives a Master's 
degree in nursing, and places its gradu- 
ates in excellent positions. There are no 
dormitory rules since the girls have the 
status of graduate students; hours of 
duty are shorter than in the old-style 
hospital schools; and the student nurses 
have a lively social life at Yale. If you 
were to meet these Yale students as well 
as college girls in other training schools 
and young graduates now practicing you 
would agree with me, I think, that they 
are an attractive lot, sure to enjoy their 
share of gaiety. 

College girls who have gone into 
nursing are very much like other college 
girls, except for the fact that they are 
surer of their sense of direction. Several 
graduates of Smith and other Eastern 
women's colleges in training at Presby- 
terian admitted to me that their class- 
mates had felt sorry for them when they 
went into nursing, but added that now 
they feel sorry for these classmates who 
have ended up in a secretarial school 
for want of a more promising career. I 
talked too with a number of older girls 
who had turned to nursing after trying 



business, teaching, or social-service jobs 
and finding them wanting. 



\l\ 

Mores change only wlirn prrjudices 
are broken down. Somctinu^s this hap- 
pens overnight when enough leaders of 
the younger generation give their stamp 
of approval to such work as department- 
store clerking. A change of attitude 
toward nursing is overdue. 

For one thing nursing has been looked 
at a little askance because we in this 
country are inclined to think any form 
of personal service demeaning. Even if 
the personal service calls for knowledge 
and a carefully acquired skill, we are 
likely to rate it lower than a routine 
white-collar position which may call for 
little gray matter. Aware of this psy- 
chological barrier, I asked student nurses 
who were college girls whether the more 
unpleasant aspects of bedside nursing 
had at first gone against the grain with 
them. A few admitted that they had 
had to get used to this side of nursing, 
but a surprising number insisted they 
genuinely liked bedside care. Doubtless 
as nursing becomes better understood as 
both a science and an art, the old preju- 
dice against it will disappear, just as has 
the English social prejudice against 
surgeons, who at one time were ranked 
almost alongside barbers. 

Any vocation is judged by the people 
who follow it. In no other profession 
that I can think of is there such a wide 
range of difference between individual 
members. There are 450,000 registered 
nurses in this country, and there is no 
denying that many are the poorly quali- 
fied products of the old type of training 
school. On the other hand I have met 
more than a few graduate nurses, both 
young ones just beginning to practice 
and older ones in positions of authority, 
who rank with the finest women of my 
acquaintance. They seem to be, I must 
say, happier and better adjusted than 
some women lawyers and doctors, who 
for all their ability are frustrated to a 



80 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



certain extent by masculine prejudice. 
I have a woman lawyer 'friend, a de- 
cided feminist, who thinks that any 
college girl seriously interested in medical 
science might better become a doctor 
than "take orders from doctors all her 
working life." Certainly the girl who is 
interested first and last in medical science 
should try to be a doctor if she can 
afford the time and money that it takes. 
But the intelligent girl who has just as 
great an interest in people as in medical 
science — or perhaps greater — can and 
does find deep satisfaction in nursing. 

It is true that some old-school tyrants 
among doctors still like to call nurses 
"handmaidens" and to shout orders; but 
they are usually the ones who are not too 
sure of their own ability. Several promi- 
nent New York physicians with whom I 
have talked say that a good nurse needs 
to be given very few orders: she knows in 
advance what to do. Nurses and doc- 
tors work in parallel but not conflicting 
fields. They are engaged in a co-opera- 
tive enterprise. At Johns Hopkins this 
enlightened attitude toward nurses was 
taken from the very beginning by "the 
great four," the Doctors Welch, Osier, 
Halstead, and Kelly. 

The idea that a nurse's work requires 
little knowledge or mental capacity is a 
widespread and singular misconception. 
Not only is there a vast amount of infor- 
mation to be absorbed — and a continu- 
ing need to keep up with the march of 
medical and nursing technics — but the 
graduate nurse must have this knowledge 
at her fingers' tips. A blood transfusion, 
for instance, if given intravenously drop 
by drop, may take from four to five hours, 
and during this time the nurse must 
watch unceasingly for danger symptoms 
which would necessitate ending the 
transfusion. This is only one type of 
case where the nurse shares with the doc- 
tor responsibility for the patient's life. 

The practice of nursing is no more 
static than the practice of medicine. A 
glance through the pages of the American 
Journal of Nursing reveals how many 
nurses are developing new technical pro- 



cedures. Only recently an Australian 
nurse, Sister Elizabeth Kenny, was recog- 
nized by the medical profession for her 
revolutionary treatment of infantile- 
paralysis patients. Instead of immo- 
bilizing arms and legs in splints, she kept 
patients exer-cising the affected members, 
with astonishingly good results. In this 
important field of orthopedics the Na- 
tional Foundation for Infantile Paralysis 
now gives fellowships to nurses for ad- 
vanced study. 

Feeling eff'ective is the key to happiness 
in any sort of work. Public-health 
nurses regard their field as the most re- 
warding, since it gives wide scope for 
initiative and the exercise of judgment 
and offers contacts with every group in 
the community. This is true of the 
"trouble-shooters" who are now being 
sent by the Federal and State govern- 
ments into crowded war-production 
areas, where they may find themselves 
establishing immunization clinics, ad- 
vising the mothers in trailer-communities 
about sanitary conditions and child care, 
and playing a vital part in preventing the 
outbreak of epidemics. It has long been 
true of the nurse mid wives of the Frontier 
Nursing Service who carry their kits in 
saddle-bags in the Kentucky mountains; 
of such "nomads of the profession" as the 
Yale graduate who travels far and wide 
in Montana hunting down tuberculosis 
cases and giving health instruction in 
every community she visits; and also of 
those who work in city tenement districts, 
where they face every day a new chal- 
lenge not only to their professional skill 
but to their tact and social understanding. 
Yet I have found other college women 
— both older and younger — who prefer 
institutional work. The director of nurses 
of a famous hospital told me that to her 
a hospital is a universe in itself, a kind 
of grand hotel of life : she finds herself in 
constant touch not only with her stu- 
dents but with doctors and surgeons, 
research workers, patients from every 
walk of life, and on the outside the lead- 
ing citizens of the community. 

Nursing calls for courage — perhaps 



A CAREER l()[< COLLECJK (^IRLS 



81 



the greatest of all human qualities and 
may offer for the taking as exciting a life 
of adventure as any young woman could 
want. Read the letters (^f a Yale gradu- 
ate from Changsha, China, where she 
had her first baptism of bombs in 1937; 
read the stories of the Army nurses who 
stuck to their posts on Bataan up to the 
bitter last day — women of whom one 
reporter wrote, "courage is too weak a 
word to describe their conduct" — -and 
you will agree that we who remain safely 
at home can scarcely imagine the exalta- 
tion of soul which comes from facing 
death as selflessly as do these soldiers of 
the professions of healing. 

IV 

College girls who see this article may 
say that they would not mind being 
heroines, but if they enter nursing school 
they will have to look forward to several 
years of dull and conscientious duty in a 
hospital at home. Yet college girls with 
whom I have talked are finding nurse's 
training anything but dull; they are 
fascinated with the new world that is 
opening up before them. 

On the practical side the college girl 
who goes into nursing is making a sound 
economic investment in her future, all 
things considered. In the depression 
that may follow the war there may be a 
surplus of nurses, but it is not likely that 
there will be a surplus of college-trained 
nurses for the public-health jobs that will 
have to be filled. The training costs less 
than that for any other profession, since 
the student nurse during her hospital 
residence pays for her maintenance by 
her service in the wards. While tuition 
runs higher in the collegiate schools, it 
ranges in the good hospital schools from 
SI 00 to S250 for the three-year clinical 
course, and some scholarships are avail- 
able. 

After graduation nurses earn an in- 
come that compares well with that of 
other professional groups, even if it is 
not high. A study made several years 
ago showed that nurses earn a median of 



SI 640 a year, as compared with S1485 
earned by librarians, $1373 by teachers, 
and SHOO by other professional women. 
A study of the earnings of college gradu- 
ates in nursing would show a consider- 
a[)ly higher income median, since many 
hold administrative positions. 

On the debit side it must be said that 
nurses who have passed their most active 
years sometimes find it hard to get work. 
This is particularly true of nurses who 
have dropped out of their profession and 
of those who have failed to keep pace with 
it. Personality difficulties may also be 
a bar to a nurse, just as they may handi- 
cap a woman in business, if not always in 
a public-school system where tenure is 
the law. Good health is an essential 
and old age security may be a problem 
to nurses, who as a group have not the 
pension protection that teachers have. 
Yet it is a fact that an increasing number 
of public-health nurses are acquiring civil 
service status, while others may provide 
for their later years by taking advantage 
of the Harmon Association's annuity 
plan. 

Security, unhappily, is a relative thing 
for all of us these days. So it behooves 
the college girl, who is fortunate in the 
education she has had, to look over the 
field with an eye to her own abilities. 
Not every college graduate, it goes with- 
out saying, would make a good nurse. 
Aptitude is as important as education. 
Desirable qualities are mental capacity, 
earnestness of purpose, a sense of respon- 
sibility, tact, patience, courage, a sense 
of humor, adaptability. The most im- 
portant quality which a nurse should 
have is "empathy," which means in plain 
English the ability to put yourself in the 
other person's place, A nurse should be 
outgoing, more of an extrovert than an 
introvert. 

To-day's younger generation are more 
realistic than the last war generation. 
They are wary of being sold a bill of 
goods, skeptical of flag-waving. They 
want to be useful in the war but they 
know that it will finally end, and that 
they must be prepared to live in the 



82 HARPER'S MAGAZINE 

strange new world that will follow the homemaking more definitely than any 

peace. Sensibly, they want to find work other vocation could. In any case it 

that will have meaning in^ peacetime as will fit her to be of definite value to her 

well as in wartime. community, no matter where she lives, 

Young people who are socially con- either as a volunteer or professional 

scious — and I believe there are far worker, and it will equip her to make 

more to-day than there were twenty- a genuine contribution to democracy, 

five years ago — want to serve humanity When the war is over Surgeon General 

in some constructive way. A nursing Parran foresees "we shall need nurses 

course taken in one of the better schools and doctors in untold numbers to pre- 

can be a stepping-stone to such a career, vent complete collapse of a prostrate 

Should a girl marry, as many nurses do world." In the meantime the college 

marry, her professional training will have girl who enters nursing will be meeting a 

prepared her for the responsibilities of real and urgent war need. 



1 



THE CENSUS TAKERS 

BY CONRAD AIKEN 

STRANGER) did you ever play ball in a vacant lot? 
Canyon lend us the loan of a match or spare us a dime? 
Did you hear oj the murder? Would you like us to show you the spot, 
Or like us to re-enact, on the spot, the crime? 

Did you play ground-cricket by the light of the stars with a stick — 
Tapped from the kerb and tipped out of sight in the sky? 
Was the street ever covered with straw when your mother was sick? 
Will you visit the funeral home, and alone, when you die? 

Over which shoulder, stranger, do you squint at the moon? 

And where is the ferry, that meets you at half -past six? 

What time is it now by the heart — too late? too soon? 

Will you hurry and tell us? That river, down there, is the Styx — 

And we are the census takers, the questions that ask 
From corner and street, from lamppost and sign and face — 
The questions that later to-night will take you to task. 
When you sit down alone to think, in a lonely place. 

Did you ever play blind man^s buff in the fading light? 
How many hearts did you break — and what else did you do? 
The census takers are coming to ask you to-night. 
The truth will be hurrying home, and ifs time you knew. 







b„ 



-LC-Uifi/VfrH- 



rlin 



Kame, 



Calil. 



WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE BROADCASTERS? 

THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE "MONOPOLISTS" WHO DO NOT 
CONTROL THEIR OWN PROGRAMS 

BY BERNARD B. SMITH 



FOR the better part of a year the radio 
industry has been in turmoil. One of 
the great networks has brought suit 
against another; the Federal Communi- 
cations Commission has charged that 
the entire existing system of network 
broadcasting is monopolistic in charac- 
ter and has taken steps to curb it; two of 
the broadcasting companies in their turn 
are carrying to the Supreme Court a 
suit to enjoin the application of the 
Commission's network rules; the U. S. 
Department of Justice has brought suit 
against those same companies under the 
terms of the Sherman Anti-Trust law; a 
number of Congressional committees 
have conducted independent hearings on 
various aspects of the controversy, and a 
member of the Rules Committee of the 
House of Representatives has proposed 
that Congress investigate the Federal 
Communications Commission, charging 
that its chairman ''is guilty of a mon- 
strous use of power and is rapidly be- 
coming the most dangerous man in the 
government." 

Amid all the bitterness, the charges 
and countercharges in this bewildering 
series of events, there is only one factor 
which should concern the radio-listening 
public, and that is the preservation and im- 
provement of network broadcasting in the public 
interest. Let this, therefore, be stated at 
once: the public interest will be served 
not by breaking up the networks, but by 
increasing their responsibilities and their 



control over their own radio programs; 
by compelling them to extend network 
facilities where the existing ones are in- 
sufficient; and, finally, by accomplishing 
this through sound regulatory legislation 
rather than through lawsuits which 
threaten the very existence of the net- 
works. 

Taking a glance backward, it is clear 
to almost everyone that it is to the net- 
works we owe a large share of the im- 
provements in the technical aspects of 
broadcasting. It is quite true, as the 
FCC points out, that there are remote 
areas of the country which are still 
entirely without network broadcasting 
services, and that in certain other areas 
available services are insufficient. What 
is not equally clear to everyone, however, 
is that as long as network broadcasting 
derives its principal financial support 
from the sponsorship of radio programs 
by national advertisers, network facili- 
ties will be extended only if advertisers 
require such extension. 

It seems pretty clear that the net- 
works have been operated primarily 
in the service of the advertisers rather 
than in the interest of the public, and it 
is in this fact, rather than in the allegedly 
monopolistic character of the industry, 
that the basic deficiencies of American 
network broadcasting have their origins. 

The networks, in order to induce the 
large national advertisers to purchase their 
facilities for the sponsorship of national 



84 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



radio programs, have worked out a sys- 
tem of discounts which sharply reduces 
the time-costs for those advertisers who 
employ the greatest amount of broad- 
cast time in a given year. In addition, 
the national advertiser who purchases 
the facilities on a network for a continu- 
ous hour of broadcasting pays in propor- 
tion substantially less for this hour than 
an advertiser who purchases only a 
fifteen-minute period. And during the 
daytime fifteen minutes constitute the 
standard period. 

Thus, for example, Procter & Gam- 
ble will purchase a full hour's time on a 
network; it will then break this up into 
four fifteen-minute segments each of 
which advertises a different P. & G. 
product with a distinct radio program. 
Procter & Gamble, however, pays for this 
time upon the basis of a full hour pro- 
gram. When, therefore, a small com- 
petitive company having only one prod- 
uct to sell desires to advertise its product 
on the air it will find that its cost for a 
fifteen-minute period of network time 
over the same stations and at approxi- 
mately the same time will, after all dis- 
counts have been allowed, be as much as 
fifty per cent more than the allocated 
cost of such a fifteen-minute segment to 
Procter & Gamble or General Mills. 
If, nevertheless, this smaller manu- 
facturer should persist and decide to 
spend a premium of fifty per cent more 
than his competitors, he would be likely 
to find that the best broadcast hours of 
the afternoon on the principal networks 
had already been contracted to such 
dominant companies as Lever Brothers, 
General Mills, General Foods, and 
Procter & Gamble. In fine, he could not 
— even at a premium — purchase equally 
desirable time in which to deliver his 
commercial message to the American 
public. 

It is, therefore, not surprising that the 
crowding out of the smaller advertiser as 
a commercial sponsor of national net- 
work programs has become a pronounced 
phenomenon of network expansion. Thus 
in the five years from 1937 through 



1941, while the network revenue of the 
largest broadcasting company increased 
over fifty per cent, the number of its com- 
mercial advertising sponsors decreased 
almost twenty-five per cent; and by 1941 
eleven advertisers accounted for over 
fifty per cent of the network revenue of 
all the national networks in the United 
States. 

The networks are not to be condemned 
for such situations, for it is only by en- 
couraging large firms to use radio as an 
advertising medium that network broad- 
casting has received the financial support 
which made possible its phenomenal 
growth and advancement. Nor, for 
that matter, can we criticize the conduct 
of the national advertisers; for in the 
keenly competitive climate in which 
they operate, uncontrolled by adequate 
government regulations, these adver- 
tisers must seize upon every available 
advantage in order to keep their trade 
names and shibboleths ubiquitously and 
incessantly before the public. In fact, 
despite the purely commercial character 
of their enterprise, they have provided 
the nation with some of its finest radio 
fare. 

But there are further difficulties. For 
example, if a small independent manu- 
facturer, using only a single fifteen- 
minute period for network broadcasting, 
should develop an excellent radio pro- 
gram, and through this means achieve 
notable success in spite of being con- 
fined to a less desirable time-spot, it 
rests within the power of the network 
upon the expiration of a thirteen-week 
period to terminate its contract with that 
company in obeisance to some powerful 
competitor. It is true that networks 
have not been known to employ such 
tactics. Nevertheless, under existing un- 
regulated network broadcasting, the 
network may at its own pleasure refuse 
to renew the time contract of a legitimate 
small advertiser. To-day, when drugs, 
soaps, and grocery products depend in 
vital measure upon radio advertising as 
a means of keeping their trade names 
before the public, the power of the net- 



WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE BROADCASTERS? 



85 



works to take away the hroarleast lime of 
a given advertiser and to grant such time 
to others is almost a power of hfe and 
death. 

Furthermore, under existing network 
practices, the cost of advertising depends 
to the very largest degree upon the skill of 
an advertising agency in obtaining for an 
advertiser a radio program of great 
popular appeal at the lowest possible 
cost. If, through a stroke of good for- 
tune, an advertiser should acquire at low 
cost a radio program which achieves great 
popularity, its cost of advertising will 
become substantially lower than that of 
its competitors in the same field. For 
advertising costs are measured by the 
ratio between the aggregate cost of the 
program (the charge for broadcasting 
time plus the fees for the performers and 
other talent) and the total number of 
persons who are listening to the radio 
program in the course of which the com- 
mercial message is broadcast. The num- 
ber of listeners is approximated by test 
samplings and surveys made by such 
companies as Crosley, Inc., and C. E. 
Hooper, Inc. 

Thus General Foods, several years 
ago, at relatively low cost introduced 
a radio program known as "The Al- 
drich Family" which now attracts one 
of the three or four largest radio audi- 
ences that listen to any program broad- 
cast in the United States. Any com- 
petitor who wishes to reach an audience 
of similar size must build a program 
round radio entertainers of such na- 
tional attraction as to make the cost of 
the program almost prohibitive; and 
even then it could not be certain that it 
would reach an audience comparable to 
that of "The Aldrich Family." Ac- 
cordingly the value of radio advertising 
depends not only upon the amount of 
money appropriated, but largely on the 
advertiser's good fortune in finding a 
program that will attract a nation-wide 
audience. 

Between the hours of 7:30 and 8 
o'clock every Sunday evening the F. W. 
Fitch Company advertises its shampoo 



over ihc R(;d Network of the National 
Broadcasting Company. This half-hour 
is sandwiched between two of the most 
popular half-hour radio pnjgrams; for at 
7 o'clock on Sunday evening the Jack 
Benny program is on the air, and at 8 
over the same network the Charlie 
McCarthy program is broadcast. The 
F. W. Fitch Company, taking very 
natural advantage of the tremendous 
popularity of each of these costly pro- 
grams, devotes this half-hour to a simple, 
low-cost musical program, relying upon 
the recognized habit of that segment of 
the listening audience which — desiring to 
hear both the Benny and the McCarthy 
programs — refrains from dialing off the 
Red Network during the half-hour period 
between them. As a result the Fitch 
program draws a radio audience alto- 
gether out of proportion to its cost and 
entertainment value, and the F. W. Fitch 
Company enjoys a tremendous economic 
advantage over its competitors because 
of its stroke of fortune in having acquired 
the right to broadcast during this half- 
hour period. Its competitors must spend 
tremendously more in order to present a 
commercial advertising message to an 
audience of comparable size. 

There is scarcely an advertiser of any 
significance in the country who would 
not ofTer the National Broadcasting 
Company a substantial premium over 
its standard rates to acquire this particu- 
lar half-hour. Yet because of those 
same self-imposed limitations which re- 
strain the networks from terminating a 
contract with a small advertiser who has 
evolved a successful fifteen-minute pro- 
gram, NBC will continue to renew its 
contract with the F. W. Fitch Company 
as long as the company desires. 

Working under such a system, the 
broadcasting companies cannot exercise 
real control over the programs broad- 
cast on their networks. Their conten- 
tion that they provide balanced pro- 
grammatic fare is refuted by even a 
cursory examination of their, actual pro- 
gram schedules. The truth is that the 
decision as to whether or not a radio 



S6 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



program shall be presented over network 
broadcasting depends not on the net- 
work's opinion of the program's worth 
but on the advertiser's opinion about its 
effectiveness in promoting the sale of 
the laxative, dentifrice, or breakfast food 
he produces. 

Such radio programs are developed 
and produced either by independent 
producers retained by advertising agen- 
cies in behalf of the advertisers or by the 
radio staffs of the advertising agencies. 
Many of the agencies would welcome a 
change in network practices which would 
relieve them of the production of radio 
programs as a prerequisite to the efficient 
conduct of their business. But until such 
time as the broadcasting companies are 
required to be solely responsible for the 
programs presented over their networks, 
a successful advertising agency has no 
choice but to continue to maintain — or 
employ the services of — a skilled and 
resourceful radio production staff. 

When the broadcasting companies as- 
sume such programmatic responsibilities 
these experienced production staffs can 
create and produce programs in behalf of 
the networks. The agencies cannot in 
any sense be held accountable for a lack 
of balanced radio fare, for no one agency 
or combination of agencies controls all 
of the programs on any of the networks. 
On the other hand, the only control that 
the networks assume over commercially 
sponsored programs is to assure them- 
selves that their content is neither politi- 
cally partisan nor offensive to the general 
public. 

The broadcasting companies speak 
tenderly of the educational sustaining 
programs which they provide without 
profit to the stations comprising their 
network. Yet during the period of 
greatest "radio attendance," from 7 
P.M. to 10:30 P.M. each evening, we 
find few such programs. These most 
valuable broadcast hours are now owned 
almost exclusively by advertisers of 
drugs, foods, soft drinks, cigarettes, 
soaps, and beauty preparations. We 
have yet to hear of a network terminating 



the time-contract of a national advertiser 
in order that it may supply the nation 
with a half-hour sustaining program of 
intellectual significance. 

The degree to which control has been 
relinquished by the networks is indi- 
cated also by the right granted to an 
advertiser to specify, subject to certain 
minimum requirements, how few or how 
many of the network stations are to be 
used for the broadcast of a program. 
The advertiser will, quite understand- 
ably, purchase time only on those sta- 
tions which serve the area in which he 
has existing or potential markets for his 
product. 

Thus the Sun Oil Company sponsors 
the broadcasts of Lowell Thomas over 
only twenty-five stations, because these 
are the maximum stations serving the 
area in which the Company's products 
are sold. It may be presumed that the 
Sun Oil Company proscribes Mr. Thomas 
from appearing on the air in behalf of 
any other sponsor. So, because of ad- 
vertiser control, three-fourths of the 
country is deprived of the opportunity to 
listen to Lowell Thomas' comments on 
current events. On the other hand, the 
radio program "How'm I Doin'?" is 
heard over four times as many stations 
as is Lowell Thomas — virtually through- 
out the United States — simply because 
the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., its spon- 
sors, have existing markets for their 
cigarettes throughout the country. 

The Jack Benny and Charlie Mc- 
Carthy programs are heard over nation- 
wide networks only because there is no 
broadcast area in the United States 
which is not either an actual or potential 
market for Jello and Chase & Sanborn 
coffee, the products respectively adver- 
tised on these programs. If these pro- 
grams had originally been acquired by 
advertisers enjoying only limited markets 
for their products, vast areas of the coun- 
try would have been deprived of the 
right to hear them. 

Thus the advertiser determines not 
only what the people of the country 
shall listen to but also — in accordance 



WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE BRCJADCAS IKKS.^ 



87 



with his own market problems and at 
variance, frequently, with the public 
interest — precisely what sections of the 
country are going to be permitted to 
hear a specific broadcast. 

II 

To insure that the networks control 
radio broadcasting basically in the in- 
terest of the public, rather than in the 
service of the national advertiser, it is 
essential that we promptly provide for 
the sound regulation and licensing of 
network broadcasting — not indirectly 
through the control that the FCC now 
exercises over the individual stations, 
but by a specific, unambiguous statute 
which, as the basic premise, will recog- 
nize network broadcasting in its present 
high state of development and will seek 
to continue it and improve it. 

When, by statute, network broadcast- 
ing is recognized as a public facility, it 
will definitely become the responsibility 
of the networks to create balanced radio 
programs available to the entire nation 
in much the same fashion as the great 
national magazines provide reading mat- 
ter. If a program is sufficiently popular 
to interest the entire nation the entire 
nation should be afforded the oppor- 
tunity of hearing it. One section should 
not be deprived of such opportunity 
solely because it displays insufficient in- 
terest in the beverage or household rem- 
edy advertised by the sponsor. 

To continue the analogy, in our na- 
tional magazines advertisers with large 
budgets purchase the right to display 
their advertisement in preferred space. 
Advertisers with smaller budgets pur- 
chase less desirable space but pay propor- 
tionately less therefor. The magazine 
and not the advertiser determines what 
the magazine shall contain, and its 
editors assume the obligation of creating 
a balanced, interesting magazine for sale 
to the public. No advertiser receives a 
reduction in rates if his product enjoys no 
market in certain sections where the 
magazine is sold. 



With definitive legislative licensing of 
network hnjadcasting, each network 
would be required U) build and create 
radio programs independent of the na- 
tional advertisers. These programs would 
be broadcast simultaneously over the 
entire nation-wide system of the specific 
network. An advertiser would then 
no longer sponsor a radio program; he 
would simply purchase the right to 
have a commercial message delivered 
for several minutes during the course of 
the broadcast of a radio program. The 
amount he would pay would be deter- 
mined by a formula based upon the fol- 
lowing correlative factors: 

1. The size of the audience that cus- 
tomarily listens to the radio program 
during which the commercial message is 
delivered. (This is, as has been pointed 
out, now satisfactorily tested by a sam- 
pling process. Just as magazines and 
newspapers now guarantee their circula- 
tion in fixing their advertising rates, so 
would the networks guarantee the size of 
the audience listening to a radio pro- 
gram in the course of which a commercial 
message is to be delivered.) 

2. The number of stations whose facil- 
ities the advertiser employs, their power, 
and the number of radio-equipped homes 
in their broadcast area. 

Thus, while many advertisers would 
purchase the right to have their "com- 
mercial" broadcast over an entire net- 
work of stations, others (because of the 
limitation of their markets) might prefer 
to employ station facilities only in the 
specific broadcast areas in which their 
products are sold. A program could 
be sponsored by a number of different 
companies in a number of different areas. 
In the course of the program, when the 
moment for the "commercial" arrived, 
the national network could be broken 
down into the required groups of sta- 
tions, each of which would carry the 
message of a different advertiser; then 
the national hook-up could be restored 
and the program continued. Thus Low- 
ell Thomas could be heard everywhere 
even if no single advertiser could be 



88 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



found to sponsor him on a national basis. 

Under this plan the advertiser, whether 
large or small, will receive precisely 
what he pays for; he will to longer have 
to fear that the program during which 
his "commercial" is delivered will not 
attract a sufficiently large audience, since 
the basis of advertising rates will be 
scientifically predetermined, and will 
no longer be based upon the accident 
of an advertiser developing a program 
of phenomenal audience appeal. Small 
companies will have an opportunity to 
employ radio advertising without the 
present disadvantage of competing with 
large advertisers who have virtually 
monopolistic control over network broad- 
casting. 

To-day it is difficult to find a sponsor 
for a series of Toscanini concerts because, 
although its listening audience is smaller 
than that of the program "Truth or 
Consequences," its cost is substantially 
greater. Under the plan proposed, pro- 
grams like the Toscanini concerts would 
be eagerly employed for commercial 
broadcasting, for then the advertiser's 
cost would be predicated not as hereto- 
fore solely upon the charge for broadcast 
time plus program costs, but principally 
upon the actual size of the listening 
audience. 

All network programs would be heard 
over the facilities of radio stations in 
every broadcast area of the United 
States. Only part of the day and eve- 
ning, however, would be employed by 
the affiliated radio stations for the broad- 
cast of network programs. The balance 
of broadcast time would be used by the 
individual stations for programs of local 
importance. Thus the individual sta- 
tions would furnish a balanced service 
in much the same manner as a local 
newspaper which — in addition to syndi- 
cated columns, Associated Press and 
United Press dispatches, and a national 
Sunday supplement — publishes articles 
and news of purely sectional interest. 

The networks can be depended upon 
to create through this system of balanced 
programming a profitable enterprise, yet 



one which will better serve the public 
interest than does the existing system 
of broadcasting. As magazines strive to 
increase their circulations as a means of 
charging increased advertising rates, so 
each of the national networks would 
strive to improve the character of its pro- 
grams in the hope of increasing its listen- 
ing audiences and thus being able to 
charge higher rates for the broadcast of 
"commercial" announcements. 

Independent radio program owners 
and producers and advertising agencies 
as well as the networks themselves would 
supply the radio programs; and the net- 
works would reasonably be expected to 
pay for such programs a sum commensu- 
rate with the size of the listening audience 
that the program would attract. 

If proper technical control were em- 
ployed there would be no physical handi- 
cap to the creation of additional net- 
works. Instead of concerning itself 
with the economic relationship between 
the network and the individual station, 
the FCC should now be overhauling 
its methods of power allocation; instead 
of freely granting increased power for 
transmitters (as it has done in the City 
of New York) it should, by reduction of 
power and other signal limiting devices, 
insure that stations will be clearly heard 
only in the broadcast area which they are 
intended to serve and will not prevent 
stations in other areas from broadcasting 
over the same wave length. 

In existing broadcast practice we are 
not infrequently confronted with the 
paradox of having too many rather than 
too few networks in operation. When 
Fibber McGee, Bob Hope, or Jack Benny 
is on the air even two national net- 
works are one too many; for no national 
advertiser will, in the exercise of sound 
judgment, attempt to sponsor a costly 
radio program under the present system 
in competition with one which virtually 
monopolizes the nation's listening audi- 
ence. The price of the half-hour of the 
Jello broadcast time over the Red Net- 
work is substantially the same as that 
asked for the same half-hour over the 



WHAT'S WRONG Willi llli: liRCJADCASTERS:' 



89 



Columbia Broadcasting network. The 
latter dare not reduce the price for this 
half-hour, and certainly no sponsor can 
reasonably be expected to pay that price. 
But under the proposed system the rates 
asked for advertising^ on a rival program 
would be determined by the number of 
people listening to that program. The 
smaller the listening audience, the lower 
the rates would be; if the program proved 
good enough to win over listeners from 
the Benny program, the rates would 
rise. Thus virtually all programs could 
be commercially sponsored: the smaller 
advertiser would once again find it pos- 
sible to support network broadcasting 
serving not alone his own interests but 
equally those of the network and the 
public. And if the power and scope of 



stations were pnjperly cfjnlrollcd, any 
needed number of netwcjrks ccjuld coin- 
petc in creating attractive rival programs. 
Fundamentally, all that tlie courts by 
their decision in the current radio litiga- 
tion will determine is whether to recast 
the existing competitive balance between 
rival networks and stations in their bids 
for national advertiser patronage. The 
problems which have been posed will not 
be solved until, by an Act of Congress, 
network broadcasting is recognized as 
an independent facility, and the rules 
and standards governing its conduct 
are clearly and unequivocally defmed. 
Only then will the networks be provided 
with enduring yardsticks and blueprints 
to guide them in serving the public 
interest. 




^^ 



)^ 



^^ 




COMBAT OVER COVENTRY 

THE GREAT RAID AS AN EAGLE SQUADRON PILOT SAW IT 
BY BYRON KENNERLY 

As Told to Graliam Berry 



AS I was sitting in the dispersal hut of 
£\^ our fighter airdrome in northern 
England, finishing a letter to my mother, 
the CO. entered the hut. I noticed by 
the early dawn light that his face was 
white and lined. German planes had 
been coming over hot and heavy the past 
few nights and I thought this might be 
what was worrying him. 

"Up late last night, sir?" I asked. 

He nodded and sat down beside me. 
"I'm a bit fagged, Jack. Been doing a 
little night patrol." 

That explained the somber, tired look 
we had noticed on his face for several 
days. Not only had he been doing his 
daily trick with us; he had been making 
night patrols by himself after we had fin- 
ished our night practice and gone to bed. 
In other words, he was on duty nearly 
round the clock. 

Bud Orbison overheard the conver- 
sation and came over. 

"I'd like to volunteer for night patrol 
with you, sir," he said. 

Several of us volunteered before the 
CO. could answer. When he did it 
was to say, "All right, boys, you make 
your first patrol to-morrow night." 

That meant we were to come on duty 
at noon, stay in readiness for a scramble 
call or possible daylight patrol until dark, 
then make a night patrol. 

It was the autumn of 1940 and we 
pilots of the Eagle Squadron, R.A.F., 
were still new to night air warfare. 



The first night six of us went up. Un- 
der a waxing moon I patrolled Man- 
chester, that large city so completely 
blacked out that it was indistinguishable 
from the rest of the countryside even by 
moonlight. I had no time, however, to 
peer at the landscape many thousand 
feet below. Directed by radio in a great, 
sweeping circle over the city, I looked 
and looked into the dim night for the 
blue-white flare of a Nazi bomber's ex- 
haust. I saw none. The constant star- 
ing into the darkness for a Jerry kept 
down an unusual sensation of loneliness 
that crept upon me, as if I were a lone 
human being in space and the world I 
had known were ages away. 

Several nights later the CO., Andy, 
Bud, Luke, and I were playing poker in 
the hut. We hadn't gone up on patrol. 
The CO. had kept us grounded because, 
he said, "something important might de- 
velop." 

He interrupted the game every few 
minutes to talk over the French field tel- 
ephone to Operations. Then he would 
use the box 'phone to instruct the me- 
chanics to keep our aircraft warmed up. 
Occasionally we heard a "cough, cough" 
and "brrrr-rup" as a crew started up a 
motor. 

Suddenly over the Tannoy loud 
speaker came the command: "Night- 
flying pilots come to readiness! Come 
to readiness!" 

The CO. jumped from his chair and 



COMBAT 0VI:R COVENTRY 



'j\ 



grabbed the field 'phone. We cn^wded 
round him. 

"Yes," he was saying, "Coventry. 
We're in readiness now. Fifteen min- 
utes. Check." 

He hung up. "Be ready to take ofT in 
fifteen minutes at ten-second intervals. 
We're patrolHng Coventry. Big flap 
developing." 

Big flap meant a big raid! And we 
were to get a crack at the Nazis. As the 
four of us reached for our parachutes the 
CO. warned, "Take it easy, boys. We 
have to wait in the hut fifteen minutes 
for final orders. Let's finish our game." 

It was no time for poker, but the CO. 
wanted to keep the four of us from getting 
nervous. Tenseness means slow mus- 
cular reactions. Fifteen minutes later, 
right on the nose, we got telephonic con- 
firmation to take off' immediately. 

Wearing fur-lined Irving suits because 
it was very cold, we helped one another 
with our parachutes and ran out into the 
darkness. Every light on the airdrome 
was turned off. There were a few scat- 
tered clouds, but not enough to hide the 
landscape completely, which was painted 
with the bluish light of a full moon. 

"Thumbs up, boys. We'll get a crack 
at 'em to-night," called the CO. as he 
left our running group for his aircraft. 
All the planes were on the line ready to 
take off. 

li ' 

I jumped on to the wing of my Hurri- 
cane and climbed into the cockpit, flip- 
ping on the dash lights. Fastening the 
Sutton harness, plugging in the radio 
and oxygen tubes, and snapping the 
oxygen mask in place across my face, I 
turned the electric-starter switch, yelling, 
"Contact!" The motor burst into noisy 
life. Quickly I closed the hatch and 
pulled on silk gloves and flying mittens as 
my electrician wheeled away the port- 
able batteries that were plugged into the 
Hurricane's belly to power the self- 
starter. 

The corporal of the flare path flashed 
a green light at the CO. Immediately 



his iiiotcjf r(jarcd and hi:; Hnrricaiir 
swung out on to thr runway. I coulfl 
see the undulating flash of his exhaust. 
As he lined up into the wind the flare 
path lights were switcln^d on. Tail up, 
the C.O.'s Hurricane roared off into the 
night. 

I counted ten seconds on my watch. 
Then Luke roared out and took off'. 
Ten more seconds. I pushed the throt- 
tle and taxied to the starting mark. 
Two members of my crew shoved the 
wings at right angles to the wind, then 
gave me a thumbs-up salute. I re- 
sponded and thundered down the run- 
way. Nearing the last light, I pulled her 
off the turf. I heard Luke informing 
Operations, or "Locust Control," that he 
was air-borne. Moving the undercar- 
riage lever, I heard a thump as the wheels 
folded inward and reached their re- 
tracted position. The powerful air- 
craft picked up climbing speed the in- 
stant the wheels were up. The flare 
path lights must have been on about 
thirty seconds now, and I hoped there 
were no Nazi bombers lurking about. 
The lights would make a perfect target. 

Flipping the radio key to send, I 
called: "Hello, Locust Control. Rinzo 
Two Zero calling. Are you. receiving 
me?" 

"Hello, Rinzo Two Zero," came the 
answer, "Receiving you loud and clear. 
Over." 

"Hello, Locust Control. Rinzo Two 
Zero air-borne. Over." 

"Hello, Rinzo Two Zero. Locust 
Control answering. Understand you 
are air-borne. Listening out." 

The radio was quiet for several seconds 
until Operations gave the CO. and Luke 
a vector, or compass direction, to follow. 
As I climbed steadily, waiting for direc- 
tions, I heard Bud and Andy report they 
were air-borne. My eyes roved over the 
instruments. I was trying to check them 
all to keep from feeling a bit nervous. 
As the altimeter needle touched the 500- 
foot mark, I changed the prop pitch to 
2,600 r.p.m. so the motor 'wouldn't turn 
over so fast. At 1,000 feet I banked into 



92 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



a 180-degree, one needle-width level 
turn. Somewhere ahead .in the blue 
blackness were the CO. and Luke. 
Behind were Bud and Anay. By follow- 
ing prearranged navigation plans pre- 
cisely we should all reach the same 
objective and without any danger of a 
collision. 

The radio crackled in the earphones 
and Operations called me; I answered 
that I was receiving "strength nina." 
"Nina" meant nine but was more easily 
understood. Strength nine meant re- 
ception was strong. Operations ordered 
me to "Vector two, one, five. Angels 
twelve." The orders were to set the 
gyro compass at 215 and to climb to 
12,000 feet. 

In a gradual climb I reached 12,000 
in about three minutes. Glancing 
through the hatch, I could see nothing 
below but the bluish blackness of moon- 
light reflecting on a slight haze. I hoped 
we could spot the Jerries in this semi- 
illumination. It was a strange sensation, 
I thought as more minutes passed, being 
on the way to protect an invisible city 
against an unseen foe. Little did I know 
I was going to witness one of the most 
devastating bombing raids in the history 
of warfare. 

My knees got cold above my boots in 
this high altitude and I slapped them 
vigorously to stir up circulation. The 
radio began to give off mutterings. It 
wasn't static, but some sort of mumbling 
conversation. I tried to catch it but 
couldn't. It might be a German con- 
troller on nearly the same wave length as 
ours talking to his planes. 

Finally the mumbling was drowned 
by the C.O.'s voice: 

"Tallyhoooo!" 

Somewhere a little more than a mile 
ahead the CO. was attacking a Jerry! 
Happy hunting, Rinzo Three Nine! 
Ahead in the darkness was a tiny streak 
of light, like a dim shooting star, moving 
across and down in front of me. It 
must be the C.O.'s tracer bullets as he 
followed his target. Over the radio 
came a faint muttering that might be 



his machine guns. The light blacked 
out, only to resume again. For an in- 
stant I caught the glint of a wing in the 
moonlight. A ruddy streak appeared, at 
first descending in a slant, then falling 
directly earthward and disappearing. 
One of the planes in that scrap was 
downed ! 

I listened anxiously for the C.O.'s 
voice on the radio. All I heard was Op- 
erations telling Luke he was over the ob- 
jective. Had the CO. been shot down? 

"Hello, Rinzo Two Zero. Locust Con- 
trol calling," Operations' voice crackled. 
"Are you receiving me?" 

"Hello, Locust Control. Rinzo Two 
Zero answering. Receiving you strength 
six. Over." 

Operations answered by ordering me 
up another thousand feet. His voice 
was fainter, about strength six. This 
was natural because I was moving away 
from the station. If reception dropped 
to strength two or three. Operations 
would switch me to a closer station. If 
the nearer station's reception wasn't 
louder it meant the radio was failing, and 
I should have to be vectored to an air- 
drome in a hurry. 

I flew for five more minutes in the 
great, lonely well of night. The only 
object I could see distinctly was the 
round moon. Operations called once to 
vector me still higher. I turned on the 
oxygen and took several satisfying inhala- 
tions of the stuff. Then again the radio 
crackled to life and Operations' voice 
came over the earphones: 

"Rinzo Two Zero. Locust Control 
calling. Orbit. Objective." 

I was over Coventry already! Bank- 
ing into a wide turn, I looked below. 
Aside from a few light and scattered 
clouds, reflecting a wraithlike bluish glow 
of the moon, I could see nothing. To 
the east searchlight beams moved slowly 
in the sky. 

A welcome sound came over the radio. 
It was the CO., calling Operations for a 
vector. I was much relieved to know he 
was still in the sky. I wanted to ask him 
what had happened, but of course I 



COMBAT OVER COVENTRY 



93 



couldn't. The radio had to be clear for 
sudden orders. 

I had set a course U)v a circle of several 
miles' radius over the objective when I 
heard Andy and then Bud receive in- 
structions to orbit. Now the five of us 
must be over the objective, not all flying 
at the same altitude however. We 
weren't the only interceptors aloft; there 
must be many others from other air- 
dromes. Their radio wave lengths were 
different from ours, so we didn't interfere 
with their conversations. 



Ill 

Suddenly far below a tiny orange light 
appeared. Then another. They were 
stationary so they must be on the ground. 
As I looked, several more winked on, 
a considerable distance from the first 
ones. They were fires starting from in- 
cendiary bombs. As others became vis- 
ible, the first one went out. Then the 
second disappeared. But for every one 
that was extinguished, five blossomed 
in the night. They looked innocent 
enough from this altitude, like fireflies at 
rest on a lawn. The fire watchers and 
wardens who were fighting them prob- 
ably had a far different impression. 

A wider and wider area was being 
sown with the fast-growing seeds of de- 
struction. Several of 'the spots spread 
and blended into others and soon in the 
place of pin-point fires there were gi- 
gantic infernos. The Nazis must be 
coming over by the score, using the thin 
cloud wisps below as a cover. The 
rapidly increasing reddish light from the 
fires made the clouds glow dully at the 
edges. 

Then, several thousand feet below and 
silhouetted against the glow of the fires, 
I spotted a winged object skulking 
through a cloud. It was a twin-engined 
Nazi bomber! It had large bat-wings, 
and the "bites" or inward curves on the 
trailing edges of the wings where they 
joined the fuselage marked it as a Heinkel 
111. 

Luckily I had set my gunsights for the 



75-foot wing span of a Hcinkel. Here 
was my chance! My right hand trem- 
bled as I snapped on the sights and 
turned the firing button guard to *'firc" 
position. Quick, before the Hcinkel 
disappears beyond the fire! Sucking in 
deep breaths of oxygen through dry lips, 
I put her into a dive. It would be a 
quarter attack. The Hurricane roared 
down, then leveled off in the thin mist. 

Where was the Heinkel? There. 
Just ahead. The Hurricane caught up 
with the racing silhouette. But it was 
transparent! Holy thunder! I was at- 
tacking the shadow of a bomber that was 
flying somewhere below the cloud ! The 
only good thing was that in the excite- 
ment of expected battle I had forgotten 
to shout ''Tallyho." 

The Hurricane swept under the cloud 
and began rocking a little. The fires 
below were creating a strong thermal of 
rising warm air, making the atmosphere 
rough. I couldn't see the Heinkel so I 
took a squint below. Miniature cars, 
probably ambulances, and fire trucks, 
brightly lighted by a dozen fires, were 
crawling through streets that must be 
furnaces! Almost directly below were 
four flashes of light, tossing up undulat- 
ing billows of smoke. The Jerries were 
beginning to drop explosives. 

Looking up, I caught sight of three 
Heinkels skimming just inside the clouds. 
They weren't shadows either. There 
were crosses on the under side of their 
wings. I yelled "Tallyho!" as the Hur- 
ricane roared upstairs to make a belly 
attack on the bomber to my left. Just 
before I got within range, the big air- 
craft dropped a stick of bombs and pulled 
up into the cloud. I was so anxious to 
get him that I went up into it too, al- 
though I knew I probably couldn't spot 
him quickly enough among the shadowy 
cloud mists to get in a long burst. My 
heart was thumping almost as loudly as 
the motor. 

The mist came down to meet me and 
I caught sight of something dark that 
might have been the black belly of a 
bomber. For the first time in my life I 



94 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



pressed the firing button. The stick 
vibrated a bit and I heard through my 
helmet a long "brrr-rrrrr^uuuup" as bul- 
lets shot from the eight machine guns. 
White tracer streaks disappeared into the 
black object, which slid past me directly 
overhead. 

Had I maneuvered to follow him I 
should have blacked out (fainted from 
the sudden turn at high speed) so I went 
on up through the cloud, the Hurricane's 
wings emitting a screaming whistle. 
The protecting flaps over the gunports, 
put on to lessen air resistance, were shot 
away and the wind, passing by at about 
250 miles an hour, was whistling in the 
gun barrels. I had had my first crack at 
the enemy. 

Near the illuminated edge of a cloud 
the enlarged shadows of four more 
bombers flashed by, going in the opposite 
direction from me. The Nazis must be 
sending them over by the hundreds. 
Although the fires and moonlight made 
aircraft plainly visible in certain areas, 
the small clouds and smoke caused the 
trickiest shadows. It was a weird sensa- 
tion, stalking the enemy and his huge 
reflections. 

I returned to my assigned level and re- 
sumed patrol. Unfortunately, now it 
was all too easy to circle the objective. 
Great fires were raging below. I 
thought of the many women and chil- 
dren who must be suffering from this 
inhumane devastation. Another "Tal- 
lyho!" over the R.T. cheered me up a 
little. I couldn't recognize the voice, 
but one of the boys in the squadron was 
making an attack. There was more 
R.T. conversation. I didn't pay much 
attention to it for I was too busy trying 
to spot another Nazi. 

There was a great flash of light some- 
where in a cloud beneath me. That 
meant a bomber had exploded. Per- 
haps it was the result of the "Tally ho" I 
had just heard. 

As the Hurricane rounded the east 
side of the city and headed west I sighted 
an aircraft, the under side of which was 
etched in red. It was traveling in the 



same direction as I and was about 500 
yards ahead. I had my sight set for the 
wing span of a Heinkel 111. The black 
aircraft ahead appeared to be smaller 
and looked like a British Blenheim I. 
There were no Blenheims up here and 
the only Nazi bomber that looked like 
them was the Junkers 88. This must be 
one of them. Since its wing span was 
15 feet less than a Heinkel, I corrected 
the gunsight. 

Slanting down to ride in on his tail, 
the Hurricane began closing in a bit too 
fast. Not wanting to overshoot him, I 
lowered the flaps a little and eased off 
the throttle. My thumb was tense 
against the trigger button and I had to 
concentrate to keep from firing too soon. 
If the Jerry saw me he could dive for a 
cloud. The oxygen felt cold against my 
face where it slipped out the side of the 
mask. Steady! I squinted into the 
sights, which glowed dull red, and kept a 
bead on the Jerry. Apparently I hadn't 
been spotted yet as the Junkers streaked 
straight ahead at about 280 miles an 
hour, rising and falling in the heat- 
roughened air. Once the Hurricane 
jumped round as it got in his propeller 
blast. I climbed above it. 

"Tallyho!" I yelled throatily into the 
mike, hoping the radio key was on send. 
It was too late to find out now. I had to 
keep one hand on the firing button and 
the other on the throttle. 

His wingtips touched each side of the 
sight ring. He was within range! My 
thumb pressed the firing button. The 
Hurricane slowed from the recoil and I 
gave her a little throttle. Snaky streaks 
of white from the tracers reached from 
my wing into the tail of the Junkers. 

The Jerry banked slightly and I 
glanced through the windscreen to see 
that he didn't try to get away. Then 
suddenly blackness enveloped the wind- 
screen. I could see nothing ! I blinked 
and stopped firing. It wasn't my eye- 
sight that was failing because the in- 
strument panel still glowed. I glanced 
round and saw light coming through the 
rear part of the glass sliding hatch. 



COMBAT OVLR COVEN'l RY 



95 



Then I realized what had happened. 
The Nazis had a trick of throwing out 
black oil to bhnd a chasinpj enemy. 
Dirty oil was plastered on my wind- 
screen. Had I been an experienced 
pilot I shouldn't have sailed calmly up on 
the tail but should have stayed several feet 
above. Pulling up the flaps, I gunned 
her again. The rushing air blew ofT part 
of the fuel oil, at least enough so I could 
see out dimly. The bomber had dis- 
appeared. 

IV 

Climbing to my patrol level, I noticed 
the windscreen was still badly streaked 
with oil. I snapped off the gunsight and 
turned the firing button to "safe," hop- 
ing to get one more crack at a Jerry that 
night. 

The fires below had become so great 
that I could easily have read a newspaper 
in the cockpit from the glare. The air 
was quite bumpy and warm. Visibility 
was actually cut by the light, which 
glanced glaringly off the windscreen. 
Enormous smoke clouds billowed up from 
below. Occasionally I passed through 
one. As I glanced down at this dirty 
work of the Nazis, there were two 
huge explosions on the ground, shooting 
up enormous umbrellas of smoke that 
gradually stretched upward in great 
treelike masses. Majiy seconds later 
I heard two dull booms over the roar of 
the motor and shriek of the gun mouths. 

Still more explosions dotted the fiery 
mass below. It must be an enormous 
raid. The Nazis evidently were coming 
over in small formations, keeping within 
the clouds for the most part. I saw 
three bombers downed, one in flames, 
one with a wing torn off, and a third 
blown up. The night patrol planes were 
taking a toll. 

The smoke began to thicken and oblit- 
erate the fires. Visibility dimmed. It 
seemed an age since I had come aloft. 
Smoke crept into the cabin and smarted 
my eyes as I kept hunting, hunting for 
the Nazi bomber fleets that were sneak- 
ing in to drop their explosives. 



The radio crackled a vector to the 
CO. Then an order came ior Luke, 
Bud, Andy, and rac. The patrol was 
being recalled. Either we were to be 
replaced or all British aircraft were to be 
removed so that the anti-aircraft guns 
could open up. 

I had to cross over the heart of the fire 
to get to the base. The Hurricane 
pitched and bucked in the turbulent air. 
Suddenly the aircraft rose so quickly I 
was nearly shoved thn^u'-^h the armored 
seat. Then it banked on its port wing 
and I had to move fast to keep her from 
turning over. What was happening? 

Just below, black pulTs of anti-aircrift 
shells exploded round a Nazi bomber 
that had popped out of a smoke cloud. 
Before I could turn and dive on it, a shell 
exploded under his starboard motor, 
wrenching it from its nacelle. The 
Nazi went into a shallow glide. Just 
before it disappeared into some more 
smoke its starboard wing buckled up- 
ward. That guy wasn't going to do any 
more bombing in a hurry. It had been 
concussion from the exploding anti-air- 
craft shells that had nearly upset my 
Hurricane. The anti-aircraft gunners 
below hadn't seen me. 

I got out of that hell of fire and smoke 
as quickly as possible. The petrol was 
getting low and the oil streaks on the 
windscreen still interfered with my vi- 
sion. When I left the red glow of Cov- 
entry behind the moonlit atmosphere 
seemed unusually peaceful and quiet. 
The sky was clear and the round moon 
looked down peacefully. It was an al- 
most unbelievable contrast to the ugly 
night over Coventry, where a Nazi w^ar- 
lord was trying to blast a city off the face 
of this moonlit land. 

After many minutes I got radio in- 
structions to "Pancake! You are over 
base." 

The flare path was turned on and I 
settled her down for the landing. At 
this instant a strong cross-wind eased the 
plane dangerously close to the flare path 
lights. The lines of oil on the wind- 
screen had caused me to misjudge the 



96 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



distances and land too close to the lights. 
The Hurricane was coming in a little too 
hot — 120 miles an hour — and I saw 
the corporal of the flare path duck when 
my starboard wing nearly smacked him 
on the back. As the wheels hit the 
ground hard the Hurricane bounced up 
about 50 feet. I gave her the throttle 
a bit and mushed her down. The next 
time she hit she stayed down and taxied 
along at 100 miles an hour, barely miss- 
ing the portable chance light or field 
searchlight. 

I eased on the brakes and she slowed 
to a stop near the end of the field. Per- 
spiration was oozing out of me as I turned 
her and taxied to the dispersal bay. My 
ground crew cheered wildly as the air- 
craft stopped. They had heard the 
wind whistle in the gunports and knew I 
had got a crack at a Jerry. 

I told them I had had my first shots at 
the Nazis but hadn't bagged any air- 



craft. Inspection of the Hurricane 
showed a mess of dirty oil over the motor 
cowling but no damage. I was glad of 
that. 

Andy and Bud were already back and 
had asked the CO. if we couldn't refuel 
and go up again. He had shaken his 
head. The boys said he felt very blue 
even though he had knocked down two 
Heinkels. 

Luke came in and landed. None of 
us could claim victories, although three 
of us had used our guns. We walked 
over to the CO., who had waited on the 
field until Luke had climbed from his 
Hurricane. Several other boys from 
our squadron joined us as we congratu- 
lated the CO. and tried to buck him up. 

"Coventry took a hell of a pasting, 
boys," was all he said as he turned, para- 
chute under his arm, and walked wea- 
rily into the office to make out his 
combat report. 




^/^ 




WHAT WE WANT IN THE FAR EAST 



BY NATHANIEL PEFFER 



AMERICAN boys are now fighting and 
£\^ dying at remote points in the Pa- 
cific and on the Asiatic continent the 
names of which not one American in 
a hundred would have recognized a year 
ago. To what end? What do we hope 
to gain by war in that part of the world? 
What kind of peace will be deemed 
worth the sacrifice of life and wealth 
required before we have victory? 

The first thing to bear in mind in deal- 
ing with these questions is that America 
got into the World War not by way of 
Europe, where it had sought for more 
than a year to bring about the defeat 
of one of the antagonists, but by way 
of the Far East. The second thing to 
bear in mind is that this was neither an 
accident nor a coincidence but wholly in 
the logic of American history. Pearl 
Harbor was an effect,' not a cause. 

Why Pearl Harbor? To answer the 
question historians will not have to take 
official documents apart comma by 
comma, as is their wont after most wars. 
The answer can be read in Secretary 
Hull's formal statement made a few 
hours after the Japanese attack. But 
first it is necessary to get the succession 
of events clearly in mind. Late in July 
the Japanese occupied southern Indo- 
China after wresting consent from the 
Vichy regime. The next day the Ameri- 
can government issued an order freezing 
Japanese assets in this country, being 
followed immediately by Great Britain, 
the British Dominions, and the Nether- 
lands East Indies. The reason was 
plain. Poised on the borders of Thai- 



land, Japan could enter that country at 
will and from Thailand invade Malaya 
at will, thus threatening the conquest of 
Singapore, the severance of the British 
Empire, a German victory in Europe 
and, in result, a world alignment in 
which the United States would be vir- 
tually in a state of siege. Therefore 
the United States struck back with eco- 
nomic weapons and the effect was to cut 
Japan off* economically from the rest 
of the world. 

Unless it intended to reverse its policy, 
Japan then had to make a choice: slow 
economic strangulation or war against 
Great Britain and the United States. 
Recoiling from both horns of the di- 
lemma, it asked for negotiations with the 
American government. There began 
the protracted discussions that ended an 
hour after the bombs fell on Pearl Har- 
bor. They began at deadlock and ended 
in collision. But before the end both 
sides had declared their position in writ- 
ing, unequivocally and beyond misunder- 
standing, as revealed in the Hull state- 
ment. The American government in its 
formal proposals for a comprehensive 
settlement had stipulated certain general 
principles such as equality of commercial 
opportunities, abstention from aggres- 
sion, etc., and then had made concrete 
demands. Among these were Japanese 
withdrawal from Indo-China, the occu- 
pation of which had caused American 
retaliation and the subsequent negotia- 
tions; and furthermore the complete 
evacuation of China proper, which os- 
tensibly at least had no direct connection 



98 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



\vith America's position: The Japanese 
accepted all the general principles and 
in addition agreed to \\:thdraw from 
southern Indo-China, thus removing the 
presumable cause of conflict. But they 
refused to evacuate China or to discuss 
the matter at all. And on that issue 
the two countries came to a break, 
though officially it had had no connec- 
tion with the last phase of the crisis. All 
else could be settled; what was beyond 
compromise was the status of China — 
whether it should be free or left to Japa- 
nese conquest and control. Because it 
could not be compromised the Japanese 
bombers attacked Pearl Harbor. 

There was nothing new in this except 
the bombers. The disputed status of 
China had been the main cause of con- 
flict between the United States and 
Japan for twenty-five years. All else 
was corollary thereto. The disputed 
status of China had been the main cause 
of all international rivalry in the Far 
East for a hundred years, whichever 
countries were involved. All else in 
the Far East was corollary thereto from 
the beginning of international politics 
in the Far East. The rivalry had never 
come to formal hostilities because before 
1914 no one country had dared to force 
the issue by an open attack on China. 
The balance of power, especially in 
Europe, was too delicately poised . Chal- 
lenge by one country would have aligned 
all the others against it. 

Not until 1914, when Europe perforce 
withdrew from the Far East as active 
participant, did one country have a 
free hand in the Far East. That was 
Japan. And from 1914 to 1937, when 
it actually invaded Chinese territory, 
Japan had been pressing relentlessly to 
make itself master of China. The 
United States as resolutely stood in the 
way, although after 1937 it held its oppo- 
sition in abeyance for a number of rea- 
sons — including isolationism at home and 
a fear of getting itself inextricably en- 
tangled in the Far East when Europe 
was plainly getting ready to ignite. 
But when Japan cast in its lot with the 



Axis and in 1941 moved for outright 
consummation of dominion over the 
entire Far East, the whole issue could 
no longer be evaded. In the negotia- 
tions at the close of 1941 all the corolla- 
ries fell into place, leaving China as the 
central proposition. 

The climax had come. There had 
been no peace in the Far East and there 
could be no peace in the Far East until 
the fundamental question was settled: 
was China to be independent or a colony 
and, if a colony, subordinate to what 
empire? When Japan moved to make a 
Japanese colony of China the question 
could be answered only by war, and 
there is war. 

II 

Against this background it becomes 
clear why the United States was drawn 
into war in the Pacific and what it should 
seek to obtain from victory. What, 
then, do we want? First and mainly, 
that we shall not have to do this again. 
We want a political system in the Far 
East such that wars will not be in the 
natural order. If we could not keep out 
of this one, we shall be even less likely to 
keep out of similar ones in the future, 
for now we are formally engaged in the 
Far East as parties at interest, at least 
as much as in Europe. Second and less 
important, we have certain definite 
material objects, principally equal op- 
portunity for the sale of our products in 
the Far East and the purchase of raw 
materials to be found there. 

It is difficult anywhere and always 
to make a war settlement that will serve 
as a basis for lasting peace. Fortunately, 
the problem in the Far East is simple by 
comparison with that in Europe. The 
European problem is almost four-di- 
mensional. It is almost beyond reach, 
beyond treatment by normal means. 
The politics of Europe is so deeply en- 
meshed in intellectual, emotional, almost 
spiritual fixities, so deeply embedded in 
the past, that one may well despair of 
bringing order out of the chaos that has 
been solidified, as it were, by tradition. 



WHAT WE WANT IN THE FAR EAST 



99 



Who can draw a map of Europ>c that will 
not leave embittered minorities in one 
country or another, minorities of blood 
and language and religion and culture? 
How organize the continent as a rational 
economic unit without expropriating 
certain areas? How give it political 
unity, a community of thought and feel- 
ing and aspiration, when hate has for 
so long bred hate, injustice for so long 
bred injustice, and the feudist's oath is 
almost given with the mother's milk? 
We may succeed, and certainly we must 
try, if we mean to save Western civiliza- 
tion; but if we do succeed we shall have 
brought off the most prodigious political 
feat in man's history. 

It is quite otherwise in the Far East. 
There the political problem is not given 
form by any long heritage out of the 
past and is not yet fraught with com- 
plexities. It has no subtleties, no in- 
tangibles. It is clear, direct, and obvi- 
ous. To establish a tenable basis for 
peace in the Far East is relatively easy. 
The cause of wars in the Far East can 
be isolated, so that it is unmistakably 
visible. It is, as has been said, the dis- 
puted status of China,, rivalry for the 
prize of China. Once that cause is laid, 
the main cause of war in the Far East, 
if not the only one, is eliminated, and 
there is as good a prospect of peace as 
mankind can hope for in its present 
estate. 

Given victory, then, what is the pro- 
gram in concrete terms? 

First: Japan must be not only defeated 
but crushed. This may have the ring of 
the retired colonel and the sedentary 
editorial writer, but it states an essential 
political fact nevertheless. Only thus 
can we at once impair the prestige of the 
Japanese military caste at home and 
demonstrate to the Japanese people 
beyond misunderstanding that war cuts 
both ways. Both are indispensable if 
Japan is to be lived with and the whole 
Pacific area freed from constant turmoil. 

The Japanese for more than a genera- 
tion have been making war as a kind of 
lark, an agreeable adventure. They are 



situated in an area of weaker, almost 

unarmed peoples. They have fought 
on other peoples' soil. It is other coun- 
trysides that aire scarred, others' villages 
that are devastated and men, women, 
and children slaughtered alike, others 
that must live out the rest of their lives 
in ruins and impoverished. For Japan 
the adventure closes with martial cele- 
brations and emotional satisfaction. A 
few Japanese soldiers are left dead in the 
invaded territory, but the loss of sons 
fades out of memory, the more quickly 
among a people of a warrior tradition. 
Otherwise no scar is left on the country. 
The national egoism is enhanced, the 
military caste is vindicated and becomes 
even more unchallengeable. 

If Japanese militarism is to be checked, 
the Japanese must be brought to realize 
that war exacts a terrible price. This 
they can learn only when its ruins are 
left on their own soil as an ever-present 
reminder of the cost of recklessness. It is 
not sufficient therefore to break the 
Japanese armies wherever they have in- 
vaded; it is necessary to carry the war to 
Japan, to destroy its principal cities and 
its whole industrial mechanism. This 
can be done only from the air, and it can 
be done if Japan is defeated at all. Thus 
there will be twenty years or more before 
Japan can recuperate sufficiently to en- 
tertain ideas of further adventures; and 
in the interval the wisdom begotten by 
suffering and disappointment may have 
time to generate another temper or at 
least resistance to samurai-bomber ad- 
venturism. 

Second: ajter defeat. Japan must be evicted 
from the Asiatic continent and the islands of 
the continent. It must be driven not only 
out of the territories it has just invaded 
but out of all the territory on which it 
has encroached for decades. It must 
be forced to evacuate China of course, 
and Manchuria, Mongolia, Korea as 
well. It must be returned to the status 
of before 1894, when it first made war 
on China. And all the physical proper- 
ties established on Chinese soil, all its 
assets there, must be given to China by 



100 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



way of indemnity. Fifty years of aggres- 
sion must be canceled out,, not" only as the 
righting of a wTong and the establish- 
ment in the Far East of a relationship of 
political equirv'. but as a deterrent against 
future aggression. 

Third: China, ezaruaicd by Japan, must 
be left completely independent — soiereign in 
fact as well as in name. This is to say that 
the Western Powers too must withdraw 
from China entirely. They must give 
up the settiements and residential con- 
cessions that have been maintained in 
Chinese ports, must recall their garrisons 
and their ships of war from Chinese 
waters, must relinquish all their special 
privileges. They must thenceforth re- 
main on the same footing in China as 
in any other countrv-*. Their relation 
with China must be that of one coun- 
try trading with another on terms of 
equality-. 

This is on the whole superfluous coun- 
sel. We shall have no choice. If the 
United States and Great Britain are vie- 
torious. China too will be victorious. 
For one thing. China will come through 
with an army of several million men. 
hardened, tested veterans. Moreover, it 
"v^ill come through with toughened fiber 
and sieraer spirit. It will not have 
sacrificed millions of Hves and seen half 
the coimtry devastated just to return to 
the old regime of littie foreign outposts 
on its territory. The old submissi%'eness 
will be gone. Fatalism \Nill not be 
deemed pertinent to foreign relations. 
China already has a consciousness of 
its own strength. It \sithstood the 
Japanese for four and a half years; the 
most powerful countries in the world 
were swept out of the Far East in three 
months. With the British troops in 
full retreat in Burma. Chinese were called 
on for reinforcement and for weeks bore 
the full brunt of the Japanese anack. 
-And Chiang Kai-shek acted as inter- 
mediarv- bet^veen Great Britain and 
India. Kno\sing its strength, knowing 
how to use it. China will know too that 
it can have its way with respect to its 
own destiny. The mood will be high. 



and it will brook no diminution of the 
nation's starure. China will take for 
granted, and if necessary demand, and 
if necessarv' get by force, the retrocession 
of all that has been taken from it. Since 
there will be no choice — for presumably 
we for our part will be in no position to 
use force to preserve our littie settiements 
and concessions — we shall do wisely to 
retire voluntarily. And that, it can be 
safelv assumed, we shall do. 



Ill 

With full recovery of sovereignty, with 
morale restored and a veteran army at 
its disposal, China will presumably be 
able to safeguard its independence. In 
that case there will be no occasion for 
international rivalries in the Far East, 
since there will be no prize to contend 
for. If any advances toward encroach- 
ment are made by any great Power after 
the fashion of the nineteenth centurv-, 
China will be able to nip them in the 
bud. International morality* in the Far 
East will thus be imposed by constraint. 
Breaches of the peace will be enjoined 
by fear of the consequences. Unless 
some new force which now cannot be 
\isualized is injected there is not only a 
high expectancy of peace but a reasona- 
ble certainty. It is because of China 
that there have been such wass or threats 
of wars that armies and navies were kept 
in a high state of preparation in the Pa- 
cific, with all the psychological and po- 
htical consequences of competitive arm- 
ing. 

There are in the Far East also, it is 
true, the colonies that Japan has just 
wxested from their possessors, but they 
have not constituted a cause of war be- 
fore and will not if Germany and Japan 
are defeated. Dilficulties will arise in 
those colonies, whether British, French, 
or Dutch, but they will be difficulties 
between the native peoples and their 
imperial rulers. These are conflicts of 
another and less serious order. The 
colonies will presumably be restored to 
their former sovereiens, but unless con- 



WHAT WE WANT IN THE FAR EAST 



101 



cessions arc made to the native peoples 
in the form of an approach to autonomy 
and preparation for eventual independ- 
ence, there will be revolts of increasing 
severity. This applies to all, whether 
French Indo-China, British Malaya, 
or Dutch East Indies. If there is any 
wisdom in the older empires — and there 
are some signs that there is — the conces- 
sions will be made in time. Certainly it 
would be the most egregious obscurant- 
ism to act as if there could be simple 
return to what was before 1941. Once 
evicted in the most humiliating circum- 
stances, the one-time masters of the colo- 
nies will come back to their colonial 
possessions with their prestige tarnished 
even in victory. The glow of invincible 
might will no longer be about them. 
The spectacle of the English masters be- 
ing ignominiously hustled out of Ran- 
goon and carrying their baggage in their 
own hands — a derogation from the 
white man's sanctity in an older and 
simpler time — while natives lined the 
streets in cool observation was symbolical 
not only for Burma but for the whole 
East. The white man's vulnerability 
has been demonstrated for all the East to 
see. He will no longer hold his position 
by assertion; he will have to prove his 
capacity to hold it. Against a really 
aroused native nationalism he cannot 
hold it. He can relinquish it gradually 
and gracefully or have to fight for it — 
unsuccessfully, because he must fight from 
thousands of miles away. But even if it 
should come to struggle between empire 
and dependency, this will not involve 
catastrophe on the scale of war between 
great Powers. 

In withdrawing from the Far East 
in the sense in which we were in the 
Far East in the nineteenth century, we 
are giving up the perquisites of grandeur. 
We record our resignation to the fact 
that the grandiose notions of omnipo- 
tence of only fifty years ago are dead. 
We write finis to the overblown imperial- 
ism of the Palmerstons, Kiplings, Kitch- 
eners, Salisburys, Teddy Roosevelts; to 
the conception of Asia as an economic 



milch-cow for the West. But it is tirn<- 
that writes finis; we (;nly read iiistory's 
handwriting. For it is the part of 
Canute to try to keep a monopcjly of the 
East politically when the seeds of nation- 
alism have been sown world-wide, or to 
try to keep a monopoly of the East 
economically when Eastern countries 
have started themselves to industrialize. 
We must, then, withdraw from the 
Far East in the sense in which we were 
there until ten years ago. We must give 
up all our ambitions and perquisites 
in China and relax control of the colo- 
nies. Then we must do two things. 
First, having crushed Japan, we must 
give it a fair deal economically: not only 
a generous deal but a better one than 
it had before it went amok. Having 
weakened it as a potential aggressor be- 
yond power of recuperation for a genera- 
tion, we must give it the means to live, 
so that there will not be the goad of des- 
peration. Second, we must strengthen 
China — strengthen it so that it can never 
again be a prey to conflicting imperial- 
istic ambitions, and so that it can be more 
profitable to us economically than it was 
when it was a contested prize. Thus we 
get our reward for renunciation of old as- 
pirations — a renunciation ordained by 
the course of history anyway, as it 
happens. 

IV 

First with reference to Japan. Agna- 
tion as large and potentially strong as 
Japan cannot be kept down permanently. 
It will burst any bonds, however strong, 
if denied livelihood. About Japan's 
so-called population problem as cause 
for its expansionism a good deal of super- 
ficial nonsense has been written and 
talked. All that Japan really needs to 
feed, house, and clothe its people on a 
standard of living not only up to what 
they have been accustomed to but con- 
siderably higher is free access to Asia 
and other places for the purchase of 
raw materials, free access to Asia and 
equal opportunity elsewhere for the sale 
of its manufactured products. This en- 



102 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



tails of course a relaxation of tariffs by 
ourselves in the East. Then Japan can 
go on with industrializat'on and, by 
employing men in factories, feed its 
population. And if spared the inordi- 
nate drain of a military establishment 
required to carry out an insensate con- 
quistadore dream, it will have a surplus 
margin. 

To be sure, that means that Japan will 
be in a position to compete successfully 
with ourselves for the trade of the East, 
but, as has been said, that was on the 
cards anyway. It is geography as well 
as history. Japan is equally efficient 
and is nearer the market. Its displace- 
ment of us was foreordained once it had 
begun to industrialize. And if Japan 
were exterminated, some other Eastern 
nation would industrialize and fulfill the 
same function. 

But will Japan thereby recover and 
go on the rampage again? For one 
thing, it will be left spent. It will need 
foreign help to get its industrial plant 
started again and that help can be given 
only on evidence of good behavior. 
Furthermore, recuperation does not come 
so quickly after a disastrously lost war. 
Even Germany, with all its industrial 
plant, its cumulative industrial experi- 
ence, its technological advancement, and 
its natural proficiency, did not recover 
until twenty years after 1918. Besides, 
there will be China as check, to say 
nothing of Russia. Japan's rampages in 
the past have been made possible be- 
cause there was no other strong Power 
in the East and the West had so weak- 
ened itself in the First World War that 
it was a negative quantity in the Far 
East. Finally, Japan will not have the 
cover of an excuse, for there will be no 
fear of exclusion economically by other 
empires in the East. And in any case, 
there will be pause for a generation, in 
which much can be done by way of 
working out a nev/ international order or, 
at the worst, in which we shall have tran- 
quillity in the East. 

As for China, we shall have to lend it 
large sums in the form of capital goods 



on credit, so that it can proceed with 
industrialization as rapidly as possible. 
For this there are two reasons. First, 
only thus can it attain the strength that 
will make it invulnerable to encroach- 
ment and penetration, with all the con- 
sequences that we have seen. Second, 
thus we shall have recompense for the 
things that we are relinquishing. This 
recompense will be in the form of greater 
political security — and also will take a 
more material, directly profitable form. 
When the war is over the whole West- 
ern world will be not only impoverished 
but confronted with the almost impossi- 
ble task of making a transition back to a 
peace economy. On America there will 
fall a double responsibility. The pros- 
pect for this country is that of financing 
a gigantic world-wide W.P.A. For a 
few years at least we shall have to feed 
Europe, not because we cannot theoreti- 
cally evade this duty but because prac- 
tically we shall not want to evade it. 
America cannot in its own interest per- 
mit Europe to go into dissolution, starva- 
tion, or revolution. It cannot write off 
Europe politically or economically. In 
any case, America will not do so. We 
shall feed Europe until crops can be 
sown and harvested again, and we shall 
give it, on credit, machinery and raw 
materials with which to resume produc- 
tion and put its people back to work. 
This is the only condition on which we 
can ever start selling to Europe again. 
We may or may not be repaid for that 
which we advance — more likely not. 
But even if we are not, we shall have our 
own problem of keeping men at work 
when we are no longer making planes 
and tanks and artillery. And it is better 
to keep them busy making machinery for 
Europe, even at the taxpayers' expense, 
than to have 15,000,000 men unemployed 
who also will have to be supported at the 
taxpayers' expense. At least there will 
be some prospect that Europe can re- 
sume functioning economically and begin 
buying from us for cash once more. In 
that sense the debts owed us, though 
formally never repaid, will be self-liqui- 



WHAi' WE WANT IN 'J'lli: 1-AR EAST 



103 



dating, which is more than can be said of 
most of our own rcHcf projects. 

The same principle will operate in the 
Far East, but with one salient difference: 

there is every prospect that we shall be repaid, 
with both interest and profit. We shall — 
or should — make huge loans to China in 
the form of capital goods which it re- 
quires for industrialization — the indus- 
trialization without which it cannot safe- 
guard its independence and maintain 
peace in the Far East. China had al- 
ready begun to industrialize before it was 
invaded by Japan. The movement has 
had marked impetus since then, mainly 
under the stimulus of the war. But in- 
dustrialization cannot go far or fast with- 
out the provision of capital from without. 
That will be our role. We shall provide 
capital in the form of plant and machin- 
ery and raw materials — and inciden- 
tally in the form of surplus technicians 
left idle by the closing of our war fac- 
tories. Thus the slack in production 
resulting from the cessation of war 
orders can be taken up. 

As China proceeds with industrializa- 
tion by means of our capital goods its 
purchasing power will go up in equal 
measure. It will repay the credits 
advanced in the form of capital goods 
and then buy more on direct account. 
For, unlike Westera , countries, China is 
still in the first stages of industrialization. 
It is as the United States was seventy- 
five or a hundred years ago. On all 
the precedents of economic history since 
the beginning of the machine age, China 
can be to the United States and to Eu- 
rope as the United States was to Europe 
in the nineteenth century — an outlet for 
the products of heavy industry. Then 
the "potentiality" of the Chinese market, 
which has allured us always, can be 
realized. And at the same time the 
United States not only can find means 
of recovery but can postpone whatever 
crisis is in store for our economic system. 
It may be that in the decades in which 
we are helping China to build up its 
modern apparatus we can find time in 
which to solve our own economic riddle. 



Indeed, no other country ran serve this 
purpose but China. No other country 
of similar size, population, and resources 
is still in an undeveloped stage and as 
ready and willing for ch^vclopnirnt. The 
wealth of the East, for centuries sought 
and mystically alluring, may still be 
found. 

V 

One obvious question arises. Will 
China become so strong as to be itself a 
menace, with its 400,000,000 people, 
its resources, and its new lift of the spirit? 
The question can be dismissed, though a 
good deal of near-profundity is already 
being aired on it and much more can be 
expected. Military power in our time 
is in direct ratio to industrial effectiveness 
— a highly organized factory system, 
ample resources already in process of 
development, advanced technological 
skill and experience. Witness Germany's 
success and the almost fatalistically or- 
dained failure of France. If, for exam- 
ple, it took the United States, industrially 
the most highly organized and the wealth- 
iest country in the world, two years to 
get its stride toward military effective- 
ness, how many decades will it take 
China — which still cannot make a plane, 
which has only a few thousand miles of 
railway, no merchant marine, no navy, 
and few factories that are much beyond 
the stage of handicrafts? For purposes of 
defense China will be strong in a short 
time, is strong now, as Japan has learned; 
but for purposes of offense, in the conno- 
tation of the word threat, it will not be 
strong for forty or fifty or sixty years. 

To plan so long in advance is needless 
— and impossible. No one can say what 
will have evolved politically by that 
time. We may have worked out an in- 
ternational order, or a new constellation 
of power may have arisen. In any case, 
it is fanciful or rhetorical and certainly 
unreal to elaborate pseudo-Machiavel- 
lian designs to cover any such contin- 
gency. Therefore we may dismiss as 
amateur strategics all the theories of 
curbing China by creating a so-called 



104 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



balance of power, by not letting Japan 
be too weakened, etc. This is textbook 
politics. 

Account must also be taken of Russia, 
in so far as an unknown quantity can be 
calculated. Whether Russia will come 
out of the war revivified for revolutionary 
dynamism, whether it will be a tzarist 
imperialism new-style, or whether it will 
revert to a kind of socialism-in-one-coun- 
try isolationism no one now can say. 
If it is to be either of the first two, Russia 
might play the same role in the Far 
East as Japan. But there are two factors 
that make for diminution of fear. Win 
or lose, Russia is certain to come out of 
the war seriously depleted. Europe 
will absorb too much of its energy and 
vigilance to leave any surplus for Far 
Eastern ventures — especially when it is 
remembered that America will be at the 
height of its power and far from uninter- 
ested in what happens in the area in 
which it has borne the main brunt. In 
addition, China will presumably be 
strong in its own right and no more dis- 
posed to waive independence in Russia's 
favor than it has been disposed to waive 
independence in Japan's favor. On any 
analysis one returns always to the cardi- 
nal point: if China is so strengthened 



that none dare challenge the basis of 
equilibrium in the Far East the train of 
events and forces that lead to conflict 
cannot be set in motion. 

This, then, is what we should aim to 
do in the Far East: defeat Japan and, 
in defeating it, crush it. Drive it out 
of the Asiatic continent completely. 
Then by removing tarifT encumbrances 
in Asia, assure it free economic access 
and thus means of livelihood for its 
people. Make China completely inde- 
pendent by removing all infringements on 
its sovereignty, including those which 
have in the past inured to the interest 
of European Powers and the United 
States. By liberal loans give China the 
means of proceeding with industrializa- 
tion as rapidly as possible. 

Thus we can have some hope of taking 
the post-war liquidation without catas- 
trophe, but mainly we can lay the foun- 
dations of a political system in the Far 
East that will work, that will make peace 
feasible rather than invite periodic wars 
for imperialistic ascendancy. And in 
that part of the world at least we can 
emancipate America from the danger 
that has been growing since 1900 and 
has come to tragic fruition in this war. 




One Man's Meat 

By E. B. WHITE 




SPRING is a rush season on any farm. 
On this farm of ours spring becomes 
an almost impossible season because of 
the songbirds, which arrive just as every- 
thing else is getting under way and which 
have to be identified. They couldn't 
pick a more inconvenient time. 

I say they have to be identified — we 
never used to identify songbirds, we used 
to lump them and listen to them sing. 
But my wife, through a stroke of ill for- 
tune, somehow got hold of a book called 
A Field Guide to the Birds — Including All 
Species Found in Eastern North America, by 
Roger Tory Peterson, and now we can't 
settle down to any piece of work without 
being interrupted by a warbler trying to 
look like another warbler and succeeding 
admirably. 

The birds have been here a couple of 
weeks now and we are getting farther and 
farther behind with everything. I sim- 
ply haven't time to stop what I am doing 
every fifteen seconds to report a white 
eye-ring and a yellow rump-patch, and 
neither has my wife. Take this morning, 
for instance. Our home roars and boils 
and seethes with activity. Upstairs is 
German measles. In the cellar is a 
water pump that has gone into a running 
fit. Outside, a truck is noisily trying to 
back up to the woodshed door to deliver 
a couple of cords of dry wood for us to 
spring out on. In the shop somebody is 
hammering away, making a blackout 
frame for the next raid. In the back 
kitchen the set tubs are in operation, 
coping with a week's wash. In the front 
study my wife's typewriter is going like 
the devil, trying to catch a mail with 
something or other of an editorial nature. 
Overhead a plane grumbles and threat- 
ens and heads out to sea. Here in the 
living room, where I choose to work 



because it is the nerve center of the whole 
place and thus enables me to keep in 
touch with life without moving out of my 
chair, I am busy with the electric literary 
life of a pent-up agriculturist, such as it 
is. Lambs jump and dance in the 
barnyard, waiting for the gate to swing 
open so they can get at the lambkill; tiny 
broccoli and tomato and cabbage and 
lettuce plants struggle desperately up- 
ward in flats in the south window waiting 
to be transplanted into the cold frame; 
two hundred and seventy-two chicks 
romp in the brooder house in search of 
trouble; the wind blows, the bushes 
creak against the shutters, the sun shines, 
the radio plays for the measles, and the 
whole place has the eleventh-hour pulsa- 
tion of a defense factory. On top of 
everything there are these indistinguish- 
able little birds crying for our attention, 
flaunting an olive-green spot that looks 
yellow, a yellow stripe that looks gray, a 
gray breast that looks cinnamon, a 
cinnamon tail that looks brown. 

This morning at breakfast my wife 
seemed tired and discouraged. I thought 
perhaps it was the measles upstairs 
(which we had wrongly identified, at 
first, as a boil in the ear). "Do you 
know," she said after a while, "that the 
fox sparrow can easily be mistaken for the 
hermit thrush? They are about the 
same size and they both have a red tail in 
flight." 

"They don't if you look the other 
way," I replied, wittily. But she was 
not comforted. She thumbed restlessly 
through A Field Guide (she carries it with 
her from room to room at this season) 
and settled down among the grosbeaks, 
finches, sparrows, and buntings while I 
went back among the smoked bacon, 
blackberry jam, toast, and coflfee. 



106 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



"My real trouble is," she continued, 
"that I learn the birds pretty well one 
year, but then the next year comes and I 
have to learn them all again. I think 
probably the only way really to learn 
them is to go out with a bird person. 
That would be the only way." 

"You wouldn't like a bird person," I 
replied. 

"I mean a sympathetic bird person." 

"You don't know a sympathetic bird 
person." 

"I knew a Mr. Knollenberg once," 
said my wife wistfully, "who was always 
looking for a difficult finch.". 

She admitted, however, that the prob- 
lem of the birds was virtually insoluble. 
Even the chickadee, it turns out, plays a 
dirty trick on us all. Everybody knows 
a chickadee, and in winter the chickadees 
are our constant companions. For nine 
months of the year the chickadee an- 
nounces himself plainly, so that any 
simpleton can tell him; but in spring the 
fraudulent little devil gives a phony 
name. In spring, when love hits him, he 
goes around introducing himself as 
Phoebe. According to the author of the 
Field Guide he whistles the name Phoebe, 
whereas the Phoebe doesn't whistle it but 
simply says it. Still, it's a dishonest trick 
and I resent it when I'm busy. 

Mr. Peterson, the author of the Guide, 
has made a manly attempt to enable us 
to identify birds, but the attempt (in my 
case) is pitiful. He says of the Eastern 
Winter Wren {N annus hiemalis hiemalis)'. it 
"frequents mossy tangles, ravines, brush- 
piles." That, I don't doubt, is true of 
the Eastern Winter Wren; but it is also 
true of practically every bird here except 
the chimney swift and the herring gull. 
Our whole county is just one big mossy 
tangle. Any bird you meet is suspect, 
but they can't all be Eastern Winter 
Wrens. 

The titmice, the wrens, the thrushes, 
the nuthatches, the finches are bad 
enough, but when Mr. Peterson comes to 
helping me, or even my wife, with the 
warblers his efforts are indeed laughable. 
There are dozens of warblers, many of 



them barely visible to the naked eye. 
To distinguish them one from another is 
like trying to distinguish between two 
bits of dust dancing in a shaft of sunlight. 
Of the Chestnut-sided Warbler Mr. Pe- 
terson says: ^'Adults in spring: — Easily 
identified by the yellow crown and the 
chestnut sides. The only other bird with 
chestnut sides, the Bay-breast, has a 
chestnut throat and a dark crown, thus 
appearing quite dark-headed. Autumn 
birds are quite different — greenish above 
and white below, with a white eye-ring 
and two wing-bars. Adults usually re- 
tain some of the chestnut. The lemon- 
colored shade of green, in connection 
with the white under parts, is sufficient 
for recognition." Well, it is sufficient 
for recognition if you happen to be stand- 
ing, or lying, directly under a Chestnut- 
sided Warbler in the fall of the year and 
can remember not to confuse the issue 
with "adults in spring" or with the Bay- 
breast at any season — specially the female 
Bay-breast in spring, which is rather dim 
and indistinct, the way all birds look to 
me when they are in a hurry (which they 
almost always are) or when I am. A 
hurried man trying to identify a hurried 
bird is palpably a ridiculous situation. 

Even the author of the Guide admits, in 
places, that a bird spotter is in for real 
trouble. The Sycamore Warbler, he 
says, is almost identical with the Yellow- 
throated Warbler, but might be distin- 
guished "at extremely short range" by 
the lack of any yellow between the eye 
and the bill. It helps some though if you 
can remember which side of the Alle- 
ghenies you are on. I try to keep that in 
mind always. 

The thing that amuses me about song- 
birds in our amazing springtime is the 
way my wife takes her troubles out on the 
birds themselves, who are, in a sense, 
innocent enough. She is puzzled and 
annoyed at her inability to master, in a 
few crowded weeks, the amazing intrica- 
cies of bird markings — made even more 
difficult because we sent our binoculars 
to England year before last to help in the 
defense of the British Isles. A little while 



ONE MAN'S MEAT 



107 



ago I saw her pause for a flcctinp; moment 
at a window as she was passing by and 
heard her mutter peevishly: "There goes 
one of those damned little Yellow Palm 
Warblers." Then she added, in a barely 
audible whisper, "I guess." 

* ♦ ♦ 

Songbirds can be ruinous as well as 
hard to tell apart. A few days ago I 
seeded last year's garden piece to grass. 
Next morning a great flock of juncos 
came in, wave after wave, white-bellied 
evil-minded juncos, slate-colored hungry 
juncos, smaller-than-a-house-sparrow- 
something-like-a-Vesper-sparrow juncos. 
They swarmed into the field and ate up 
all the seeds. It was the first time I had 
ever sprung after a songbird with a foul 
oath. 

* * * 

When we first came here to live, the 
road in front of our house was a dirt road. 
But after a while they tarred it. Now, in 
war, with the automobile on the wane 
and the horse returning, I think probably 
they will have to throw some dirt back on 
the road, the surface being too hard on 
the feet of animals. Moral: men should 
settle their differences before they im- 
prove their roads. 

* * * 

Our county had its first blackout the 
other evening, on Palm Sunday. It was 
considered a success, although no bomb 
fell. It was a lovely day for a raid — one 
of those quiet days full of a deceptive 
peace. When I looked out at daybreak 
the ground was white with frost, but you 
could tell it was going to be a fine day. I 
got up promptly to tend some new chicks 
and was busy with them for a half hour 
before breakfast, thinking of palms and 
Christ and bombs and dry litter. After 
breakfast a new lamb turned up with a 
sore eye, which I bathed with boric acid 
so it could see well for the blackout, and 
then was summoned to help a scholar 
with his grammar but with no success. 
When I could not think of a pronoun 
used with conjunctive force and did not 
know what an adjectival complement 
was he grew restless and discouraged. 



"You really cicjii't kiimv anylliing 
about grammar, do you?" he said. 

"No, I don't," I replied, with only a 
trace of regret. 

Only three or four ears passed, the 
whole morning long. We saw no palm 
leaves and did not go to church. After 
his homework was done the boy left to 
dam a stream, and from the kitchen came 
the drowsy sound of something being 
chopped in a bowl. M(jstly we just lay 
around, waiting for the blackout. 

A little after nine o'clock in the eve- 
ning, our 'phone began ringing the num- 
bers on the party line (we are on a line 
with seven other subscribers and each has 
his own distinctive ring, almost as hard to 
tell apart as the warblers). I sat by the 
'phone waiting, with my jacket and cap 
on and my gloves handy. When our call 
came, I picked up the 'phone and the 
voice of our chief air raid warden said: 
"The yellow has just come through." 

Outside, the truck stood ready, trem- 
bling, its engine running, its headlights 
on (we were instructed to drive with 
lights for this first raid). 1 hung up the 
'phone, ran outside, and jumped in. My 
assignment was to give the alarm on a 
stretch of road between our house and 
the center of the village two and a half 
miles away. The signal was to be a 
continuous blowing of the horn. 

As I turned out of the drive into the 
highway and jammed the horn button 
down, trying to shift gears, blow a horn, 
and make a turn, all with only two 
hands, the thing seemed entirely real to 
me — just as the first second or two of the 
fire drill in grammar school used to seem 
real, when the gong sounded suddenly 
and you had to guess whether the fire was 
a hot one or an imaginary one. To race 
through the countryside at night, blow- 
ing your horn steadily, stirs the blood up. 
For a few minutes I was brother to Paul 
Revere. 

The villagers had been reading about 
the blackout for a week in the newspaper 
and were prepared, some with blackout 
curtains, others with the simpler defense 
mechanism — blowing out the lamp. As 



108 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



I passed farmhouse after farmhouse, mak- 
ing my horrible racket, §hades were 
quickly drawn and lights went out. I 
drove as fast as I could considering the 
condition of the road, which was full of 
holes where the frost had heaved the tar. 
The horn button proved treacherous; it 
would make contact only if held in a 
certain position, and occasionally Fd lose 
the horn and have to worry it on again. 

As I drew in to the village I heard the 
church bell ringing. The church was 
black, the two stores were black, and the 
four or five houses at the corner were 
black. I peered into the church and 
tried to see the sexton at the bell rope, but 
couldn't. For a minute or two my horn 
and the church bell quarreled, the sacred 
and the profane, riling the Sabbath eve- 
ning. Then I turned the truck round and 
started back home — no horn this time. 
One house still showed lights. I stopped 
and tooted peremptorily. The lights 
were quickly extinguished. I glanced in 
at the house where the old lady lived who 
had said that she was so far off the road 
she wouldn't be able to hear the signal 
but that it wouldn't make any difference 
because she always went to bed before 
nine o'clock anyway. Everything was 
dark at her house. 

I was back home about twenty-five 
past nine, and at nine-thirty the 'phone 
rang again and the warden announced: 
"Red light." The raid was on. 

Sitting by the radio in the dark living 
room (our own curtains hadn't been in- 
stalled) we turned on Fred Allen for the 
duration of the raid. When the all-clear 
came through I repeated the trip to town, 
sounding the horn again, but the bloom 
was ofi* the rose: the second trip was anti- 
climactic. The church bell was ringing 
again, and this time the sexton was visible 
in the vestibule. 

♦ * * 

One of the things I had to do, to get 
ready to black out our farm, was to devise 
a blackout hood for the pilot light on my 
electric brooder stove, which goes on and 
off as the thermostat switch operates. I 
found an old tin cup and inverted this 



over the bulb, a simple precaution in- 
volving two hundred and seventy-two 
lives, not counting our own. 
* * * 

I hope the United States does not wait 
until it is ready before beginning to fight 
the war in Europe. For we will never be 
ready. No country can ever be wholly 
prepared to go to war. The President 
has repeatedly said that we need planes 
and tanks and guns; production is the word 
which we have been taught to believe in, 
and it suits our character and our talents; 
but it is a dangerous word, just as defense 
was a dangerous and fateful word, and 
just as the phrase "all aid short of war" 
was a fateful and treacherous phrase. 
Germany and Japan have won their 
gains not merely because of their enor- 
mous production but because of the 
enormous risks which they were willing 
to take at the proper moment. Unless 
we take equal or greater risks we will not 
beat them. 

Preparation for fighting a war is like 
preparation for taking a cruise in a small 
sailing boat — there is no end to it. It is 
possible to get so absorbed in the details 
of preparation as to lose sight of the trip. 
Anyone who has ever had the experience 
will know what I mean. If you were to 
wait until both you and the boat were 
really ready to put to sea the summer 
would pass and the autumn would find 
you still at your home mooring. No 
boat is ever entirely ready to put to sea, 
no country is ever fully prepared to go to 
war; always there remain things which 
should be attended to, contingencies 
which should be provided for. But there 
comes a moment when you have to forget 
about preparations and think about the 
stars and the sea and the lengthening 
nights. You know that if you don't go 
now you will never go. So you drop off 
your mooring and shape your course to 
the wind. From then on things begin to 
move; you may not be ready in every 
particular, but you are under way and 
the ship is alive. And something vital in 
the ship imparts sudden life and resource- 
fulness to her crew. 




The Easy Chair 




SEDITION'S GENERAL STAFF 



BY BERNARD DeVOTO 



CERTAIN abridgments of the Bill of 
Rights during wartime are inevi- 
table, acceptable, and alarming to no one. 
Everyone knows that they are necessary, 
and of the restrictions so far put on in- 
dividual freedom some have been ac- 
cepted without comment and others 
without widespread awareness. Lately, 
however, the government has begun — 
rather belatedly — to deal with sedition, 
and it is altogether impossible to deal 
with sedition without raising some of the 
most difficult and even most dangerous 
issues in the conduct of war. 

In proceeding against William Dudley 
Pelley and the four lesser known men 
whose arrest for sedition has so far been 
announced, the government has chosen 
to enforce the Espionage Act of 1917. 
The excesses committed under cover of 
that Act during and immediately follow- 
ing the last war have clearly made the 
government reluctant to apply it in this 
war. Those excesses were flagrant and 
we soon came to be ashamed of them. 
War emotions sanctioned the brutal 
treatment of innocent persons, they wid- 
ened the definition of sedition so far that 
the Bill of Rights was mocked, and finally 
they permitted an Attorney General of 
the United States to whip up a public 
terror as he prepared for his personal 
campaign for a Presidential nomination. 
That remembrance of these things should 
exercise a deterrent effect on the govern- 
ment is wholesome and reassuring. Nev- 
ertheless, tenderness over past errors must 
not be permitted to produce errors of the 



opposite kind. There is such a thing as 
sedition. It exists to-day in extremely 
dangerous forms. It must not be granted 
immunity on the ground that innocent 
persons were injured twenty-five years 
ago. 

It is also true that one of the basic 
dangers in the abuse of freedom of speech 
has not been covered by law. The most 
brilliant thinking about the constitu- 
tional guarantees of free expression in our 
time occurs in the opinions of the late 
Justice Holmes, many of them in relation 
to cases under the Espionage Act and its 
more severe amendment. But Holmes's 
principles do not fully cover a recurrent 
problem which we are certainly going 
to have to grapple with. Briefly, his 
doctrine is that the individual must be 
protected in his right to oppose the war 
effort of the government in absolutely all 
circumstances except those which "cre- 
ate a clear and present danger that they 
will bring about" successful interference 
with the prosecution of the war. No 
matter how seditious in theory or tend- 
ency the individual's utterances may be, 
he must be permitted to express them 
freely up to the point where they become 
immediately likely to produce actual de- 
sertion, insurrection, or other violent 
stoppage of the war effort. That is 
clear — but also it is limited. 

It makes sedition a matter of degree 
but fails to provide an effective means of 
determining degree. In the opinion just 
quoted Holmes went on to acknowledge, 
"When a nation is at war many things 



no 



HARPER^S MAGAZINE 



that might be said in time of peace are 
such a hindrance to its effort that their 
utterance will not be endured so long as 
men fight and that no Courc could regard 
them as protected by any constitutional 
right." Yes, but just what are they? 
It was absurd in the last war to prosecute 
a man who mailed a letter saying that 
the Administration had misrepresented 
Germany's submarine warfare. It would 
be absurd now to prosecute a person 
who declared in private conversation or 
in an orderly assembly that the Adminis- 
tration's war policy was confused, mis- 
taken, or a failure, or one who in the 
same circumstances declared that the war 
was the result of American aggression and 
called for the election of a Congress that 
would bring it to an end. Somewhere 
beyond that lies the acceptable limit of 
Justice Holmes's sanction, but just where? 
Utterances which repeat the Axis propa- 
ganda line directly or by implication, 
which dovetail into its program, which 
are clearly designed to darken counsel 
or increase domestic dissension or arouse 
active resistance, when accompanied by 
systematic falsification and when made 
to the enormous audiences reached by 
radio stations or metropolitan news- 
papers — such utterances, which are made 
every day, have certainly crossed the 
boundary Holmes sets up, but at what 
point no one can say. 

We run into the very difficulty that 
those opinions were intended to obviate: 
that in the individual instance the courts 
must decide whether sedition has been 
committed. That implies that as the 
war goes on the courts will tend to decide 
more harshly as public feeling becomes 
more angry. That, in turn, probably 
means that the obscure or the humble or 
the relatively ineffective will be punished 
excessively and the innocent may suffer. 
The Holmes principle has to say of it only 
— too bad. But there is no light on a 
graver matter: that the really dangerous 
authors of sedition may be immune. 

Judicial interpretations of the Espio- 
nage Act, that is, have not covered a cen- 
tral problem. They have not answered 



Lincoln's question, "Must I shoot a 
simple-minded soldier boy who deserts 
while I must not touch a hair of the wily 
agitator who induced him to desert?" 
The soldier boy was subject to military 
law but the wily agitator was protected 
by the civil law in his effort to overturn 
the basis of all law. 

Lincoln's question was written in an- 
swer to a protest against the trial of 
Clement L. Vallandigham by a military 
commission. Vallandigham had cer- 
tainly committed both sedition and 
treason. Just as certainly, the military 
commission was outside the provisions 
and safeguards of the civil law. But it 
is also certain that the Vallandigham 
case raised issues which, because it also 
involved principles of public policy that 
happened to have a greater immediate 
importance than the legal principles, 
have never yet been squarely met. 

Whatever may be true of the Vallan- 
digham case, it is crystal clear that many 
acts of Lincoln's Administration did in- 
fringe the constitutional provisions of the 
Bill of Rights. It is equally clear that the 
Administration was forced to many of 
those acts because neither the Constitu- 
tion nor the civil law provided for certain 
highly dangerous emergencies which con- 
fronted the government in the Civil War. 
Those dangers are much closer to dangers 
we are exposed to now than any we ex- 
perienced in the First World War. 
They repeatedly forced Lincoln to de- 
termine a point at which an ancient legal 
maxim began to operate. Inter arma 
leges silent, that maxim says: when the 
appeal to arms has been made the laws 
are silent. The problem of suspending 
the law in emergency comes close to the 
core of democratic government. But 
its very centrality enables enemies of 
democracy to use it as a weapon of 
offense. Democracy guarantees the in- 
dividual the free exercise of his rights, but 
reluctance to prevent that exercise might 
easily bring about the destruction of 
democracy. 

Lincoln met this difficulty squarely by 
suspending the privilege of habeas corpus 



0. 



THE EASY CHAIR 



PUBLIC LIBRARY 



and by corninittiiiG; political prisoners to 
the jurisdiction cjI military courts. Two 
famous judicial opinions have passed 
judgment on him. But it is not clear 
that they took account of the realities he 
faced or that they have any guidance for 
us. 

In May, 1861, at the height of the 
struggle to keep Maryland in the Union 
(the secession of Maryland might well 
have lost us the war), John Merryman, a 
Confederate lieutenant in that State on 
recruiting service, was arrested by order 
of the commanding general. The gen- 
eral then, on the authority of the Presi- 
dent, refused to acknowledge the writ of 
habeas corpus served on him. Justice 
Taney declared that the President had 
no power to suspend habeas corpus, and 
his declaration has stood on the record 
ever since. But the laws, though not si- 
lent, were in fact suspended, the writ was 
ineffective, and a constitutional guarantee 
had been overridden. Confederates and 
Confederate abettors in Maryland may 
have been protected by the Constitution, 
but the Union had to be saved. That is 
probably the sole teaching of ex parte 
Merryman to-day. Unless one adds 
that, since the end of the Civil War, no 
man's rights have been jeopardized be- 
cause John Merryman lost his in 1861. 

In August, 1864, Lambdin P.Milligan 
of Indiana was arrested by military order. 
He was tried by a military commission 
for conspiring against the United States 
and inciting insurrection. On conclu- 
sive evidence he was found guilty and 
sentenced to death. The Supreme Court 
agreed to review his case and in April, 
1866, announced its decision. Briefly, 
that decision was that the proceedings 
had been illegal, since Indiana was not 
actually a theater of invasion or insurrec- 
tion, the civil courts were operating there, 
and when civil courts are operating civil- 
ians cannot be subjected to the jurisdic- 
tion of military courts. That decision 
prohibits the arbitrary suspension by the 
government of the orderly processes and 
protections of law. 

Or does it? No one contemplates the 



use of military ccMirts in prosecutions for 
.sedition t(j-day, and it is by no means 
clear that the decision in ex parte Milligan 
faces Lincoln's needs or ours. For the 
decision of the Court was arrived at 
after the emergency was over, after the 
Civil War had come to an end. It is 
quite certain that if the war had been go- 
ing on the court would either have de- 
cided otherwise or found some way of 
avoiding a decision. The Milligan case 
has "long been recognized as one of 
the bulwarks of American liberty," but its 
real teaching may be a highly realistic 
one. It may teach that in wartime you 
act according to the necessities, and if 
the necessities infringe on constitutional 
guarantees you make reparation when 
the war is over. 

During the Civil War as many as 
thirty-eight thousand persons were arbi- 
trarily arrested by executive authority. 
Some of these arrests originated in party 
politics, many were made on the merest 
suspicion, many others on the whim of 
the Secretaries of War and State. A very 
great many of them, however, were ab- 
solutely necessary for the defense of the 
nation. It was under attack by a power 
whose agents, spies, agitators, and sympa- 
thizers frequently found protection under 
the civil law. In defending the arrests 
Lincoln voiced a doctrine of great poten- 
tial danger to the Bill of Rights, a theory 
of the anticipation of crime, of "arrests 
made not so much for what was done as 
for what probably would be done." 
That theory is at the opposite pole from 
Holmes's principle; unquestionably it 
could define sedition as "imagining the 
death of the king." Nevertheless the 
necessity for Lincoln's action cannot be 
denied nor can he be gainsaid in his as- 
sertion that he was confronting a situa- 
tion for which no constitutional provision 
had been made. In order to preserve 
the Constitution which guaranteed indi- 
vidual rights he had to save the nation 
which the Constitution governed — even 
if, in order to do so, he had to violate the 
Constitution. 

How far are enemies of our form of 



112 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



government to be permitted to invoke its 
protections in order to implement their 
efforts to destroy it? Our problems to- 
day are much closer to Lincoln's than to 
those which the Espionage Act was de- 
signed to cover. In 1917 we had to deal 
with only small subversive groups and 
small numbers of enemy agents. But 
now, like Lincoln, we must deal with 
large numbers of agents directed by en- 
emy governments and in working alli- 
ance with sizable subversive groups of 
our own citizens. Lincoln spoke of "a 
most efficient corps of spies, informers, 
suppliers, and abettors of their [the 
enemy's] cause," and appears to have 
been describing sedition in 1942. Our 
job is complicated by things which Lin- 
coln did not have to deal with, a highly 
developed technic of psychological war- 
fare, of setting class against class and 
belief against belief for the purpose of 
weakening us from within, and an effi- 
cient mechanism directed from Berlin 
which utilizes every variety of assistance 
that native traitors can supply. A kind 
of war instigated and propagated by the 
exterior enemy is being waged within 
the nation by American citizens. That 
it is so far a small and ineffective war does 
not in the least alter the fact that it is a 
civil war. The Constitution, which had 
no provision for it in Lincoln's time, has 
none now. Much of it is being con- 
ducted under the protection of the Bill of 
Rights, and there is no effective way of 
stopping it without infringing liberties 
also guaranteed to the innocent. 

The earliest arrests for sedition in the 
present war were made among the small 
fry. If they are guilty they can be taken 
care of under the Espionage Act and re- 
lated measures. With the government 
proceeding in scrupulous remembrance 
of injuries wrought during the last war, 
it is at present unlikely that the innocent 
will suffer. The arrest of Mr. Pelley 
reaches a considerably more dangerous 
class, but for that class also the provisions 
of the law are adequate. He will be 
tried with due process in the federal 
courts and the entire class to which he is 



accused of belonging can be handled 
within the established framework. 

But neither the small fry nor such men 
as Pelley are our principal danger. They 
are the front men, the fall guys, either 
the dupes or the vicars of really formi- 
dable traitors. Lincoln asked if he must 
shoot the simple-minded deserter and let 
the procurer of desertion go free. Must 
we jail the distributors of idiotic and in- 
effective pamphlets handed to soldiers 
who will only laugh at them, while we 
permit the authors and procurers of the 
sedition contained in them to conduct 
a planned attack on the American system 
while that system is at war for its ex- 
istence? To ask the question is to an- 
swer it: we certainly are not going to 
tolerate civil war while we are fighting a 
foreign war. But the civil war, which is 
made in the interests of the foreign war, 
is being conducted under the protection 
of the very guarantees which are the es- 
sence of the American system. Neither 
the problem nor the solution has changed 
since Lincoln's time. 

The general staff of that civil war are 
attacking our democracy directly, in- 
directly, and by insinuation in a day- 
by-day campaign which harmonizes per- 
fectly with the attacks made on it by our 
foreign enemies. They let the small fry 
and the traitors of the second magnitude 
take the rap, while in the pulpit, the edi- 
torial page, and their organized network 
they utilize their constitutional freedoms 
to hamstring the defense of freedom. 
No one can doubt that at the proper time 
this general staff will overtly acknowledge 
the alliance they now serve. Is there no 
recourse or preventive? 

There certainly is. You do not save 
freedom by sanctioning treason against 
it — you withdraw the sanction. You 
determine, with Lincoln, that the consti- 
tutional guarantees depend on the preser- 
vation of the nation which the Constitu- 
tion governs. You take action. If your 
action produces injuries you are willing 
to make reparation after the war shall 
be won. You establish a line beyond 
which the laws will be silent. 



For inforination concerning the contributors in this issue, 
see PERSONAL AND OTHERWISE on the following pages 



VOL. 184. NO. 1 106 




JULY \'J',2 



Harpers 

044aaazme 



w 



SKY TRUCKS COMING 



FREIGHT BOATS CAN'T SUPPLY A FIVE-CONTINENT AIR FORCE 



BY WILLIAM M. SHEEHAN 



WE CANNOT win this war with bomb- 
ers alone. Ahhough the unmis- 
takable trend in modern warfare places 
more and more emphasis upon fighting 
above rather than on the surface of the 
earth, it is nevertheless a fact that 
bombers by themselves are not going to 
win this war. We should not think that 
because our gigantic four-engined bomb- 
er production program will soon exceed 
the combined production of all our ene- 
mies we may complacently envision easy 
supremacy of the air and shall not have 
to seek new methods of using air power 
to greatest advantage. 

What is going to win this war, in so 
far as air power is concerned, is a 
thoroughly modern and well-balanced 
Air Force. That means that, in addition 
to bombers and fighters, we need all the 
parachute-troop transports, sky ambu- 
lances, aerial tankers and freighters, 
aerial repair shops, camp kitchens, and 
other specialized service aircraft that 
ingenious tacticians can find a use for. 

Copyright, 1942, by Harper & 



Our bomber program is well under way 
and our overwhelming need now is for 
planes in the noncombatant, heavy- 
load category. 

Modern warfare attaches great im- 
portance to the factors of mobility and 
surprise. These in turn call for an 
abundance of the fastest type of supply 
vehicle. We should not think of send- 
ing into battle a mechanized ground 
force that did not include thousands of 
motorized supply vehicles. Even a land- 
lubber knows that the best batdeships 
and cruisers are useless without plenty of 
transports that can accompany them in 
the same medium, the ocean. Yet as 
far as the average reflective American 
citizen can see, we are trying to create 
the world's finest air force without build- 
ing at the same time enough of the only 
kind of supply vehicle that can keep up 
with it. We are supplying our advanced 
air bases by means of eleven-knot cargo 
ships, which is as incongruous and short- 
sighted as it would be to try to maintain a 

Brothers. All Rights Reserved. 



114 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



modern mechanized column with ox 
carts and mules. 

Lieutenant General Arnold, probably 
our best-informed person in the field of 
military aviation, has said that the "ulti- 
mate" in modern air warfare will be 
reached through parachute troops and 
air infantry. That makes the transport 
plane of top importance. For aerial 
soldiers and their equipment are trans- 
ported not in bombers, fighters, or 
torpedo planes, but in airplanes intended 
for carrying heavy, bulky loads. Clearly 
the "ultimate" will be attained much 
sooner if we start giving proper attention 
to the glamourless but absolutely essential 
sky truck. 

The exact number of sky trucks in 
or subject to the control of the United 
States is of course a war secret. But it is 
safe to say that the quantity is not large. 
During 1940, the last year for which 
complete production figures are avail- 
able — a year, incidentally, in which 
important use of the sky truck was made 
by the Nazis in France, Holland, and 
Norway — no more than ten cargo planes 
were built in this country. In 1941 our 
total sky-truck strength was no more than 
fifty airplanes, chiefly twin-engined Doug- 
las cargo transports concentrated in the 
50th Transport Wing of the Army Air 
Corps. They carried aircraft engines, 
propellers, and other urgently needed 
supplies, to a total of 6,790,000 pounds, 
on routine runs between principal supply 
bases in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and 
California, with occasional trips to the 
Panama Canal Zone or Alaska. To-day 
this air freight activity, undoubtedly 
greater, is a part of the Air Service 
Command of the Army Air Forces. An 
allied group, the Air Forces Ferrying 
Command, chief mission of which is to 
forward new airplanes and pilots to the 
fighting fronts, also possesses a number of 
sky trucks. The Navy has only in re- 
cent months created its air supply arm, 
the Naval Air Transport Service. What- 
ever our present number of air vehicles 
may be, it is entirely inadequate for any 
large-scale sky-trucking activity. 



What of our passenger transports? 
Won't these fill the void? On April 30th 
it was announced that contracts were 
about to be signed with the Army 
whereby the commercial airlines would 
operate a new air freight service to move 
essential parts from subcontractors to the 
assembly plants of prime contractors; 
from sixty to eighty planes will be leased 
to the Army and converted into freight 
carriers by removal of seats. But instead 
of decreasing the burden upon civil air- 
lines, war actually increases it. Not 
many transport planes can be spared. 
There is more industrial activity and 
more confusion; larger quantities of mail 
and greater numbers of business people, 
experts, and government officials require 
rapid air service. New York's municipal 
airport — already the largest in America 
— is having to build extra runways paral- 
lel to existing ones in order to handle 
the increasing number of scheduled 
flights — now approaching three hundred 
a day. The Railway JExpress agency 
announced that its Air Express division 
carried 1,384,910 pounds during Janu- 
ary, 1942, the largest total for a month 
in the fourteen-year history of the service 
and almost a third of the total amount of 
cargo flown in 1941. Because of the 
war our commercial passenger, mail, and 
express services should, like those in 
both Great Britain and Germany, be ex- 
panded rather than diminished. Fur- 
thermore, even if all existing civil 
transport aircraft were appropriated to 
direct military usage, we should gain 
very little. There are only about 350 
domestic, 150 foreign-operated passenger 
liners available, and these, together with 
our military transports, would still be 
inadequate for mass sky-trucking pur- 
poses. 

II 

Let us contrast the position of Ger- 
many. Ever since 1935 the Nazis have 
mass-produced their squat, corrugated 
Junkers Ju-52. This antiquated model, 
which so strongly resembles our old tri- 
motored Ford, is somewhat smaller, 



SKY I'RUCKS COMING 



11 



much more ungainly than our famiUar 
airliner, the Douglas DC-3. It cruises 
at about 160 miles per hour, compared 
with 185 for our Douglas. Willi lieavy 
non-retractable landing gear it is easier 
to put down on short rough fields and its 
square, rugged lines lend themselves 
readily to quick, easy construction. As a 
troop transport it carries 15 parachutists 
or 20 air landing troops. As a freighter it 
can transport two or three tons over 
short range. 

Other types of sky trucks are used by 
the Nazis: the huge 40-place Junkers 
Ju-90, and the Focke-Wulf Condor, 
powered with four engines (gasoline or 
Diesel), which made numerous flights be- 
tween Dakar and Natal, Brazil, before 
the war. (The Germans have put an 
enormous amount of research into the 
development of Diesel-powered aircraft 
for carrying heavy loads. Advocates of 
Diesel power point to the great saving 
in weight of fuel which such engines per- 
mit, claiming, for instance, that a gaso- 
line-powered four-engine airplane with 
a load capacity of 17,500 pounds and a 
flight range of 5,000 miles, with four 
2,000 horse-power engines and a cruis- 
ing speed of 300 miles per hour, would 
require a fuel load of 33,020 pounds if 
90-octane gas were used; but a similar 
craft with Diesel engines would require 
only 26,880 pounds of fuel — which 
would mean that it could carry 6,140 
pounds more cargo.) It is the Junkers 
Ju-52, however, which is most conspicu- 
ous of the German sky trucks. Upward 
of 2,000 are built each year, and the 
Nazis are reliably reported to have more 
than 10,000 of them in use or in reserve. 

It is said that the idea of using aircraft 
for hauling heavy loads of troops and 
supplies originated during the First 
World War but was not perfected in 
time for use then. At any rate it was 
the Russians who first made conspicuous 
experiments with the airplane for this 
purpose. People who saw newsreels of 
Soviet parachutes filling the sky and 
thought it a mere stunt were wrong. 

Before Hitler came into power, in 



1931, the United States Air Corps flew a 
battery of field artillery across 90 miles 
of Panamanian Isthmus. Later an en- 
tire field artillery battalion was moved in 
the same way down there, and the 
British flew a battalion of infantry from 
Cairo to Bagdad, a distance of some 700 
miles. But all these operations were ex- 
perimental and on a fairly small scale. 

Compelled at first by the Versailles 
Treaty to work secretly, the Germans 
gave special attention to sky-truck tactics. 
Several years ago Berlin police used 
parachute forces against allegedly riot- 
ing Communists. Then in 1936 the civil 
war in Spain provided excellent oppor- 
tunities for experiment; in July 4,000 
Moors and more than 200 tons of mili- 
tary freight were ferried in Junkersju-52's 
from Morocco to Seville. The Loyalist 
fleet was thus neatly circumvented and 
the revolution thereby saved from going 
against Franco at the outset. When 
the Nazis moved into Austria in 1938, 
Junkers sky trucks were in the forefront, 
just as conspicuous and ubiquitous as 
the dive bombers and Messerschmitt 
fighters. The same was true subse- 
quently in Czechoslovakia and Poland. 

After the Second World War had 
officially begun, hardly a single Nazi 
move was made without great numbers of 
these slow but capacious aircraft. With 
each campaign some new use was dis- 
closed. In Norway a crack Westphalian 
regiment was deposited within the space 
of a few hours on a strategic bit of coast by 
hundreds of Junkers equipped with floats 
instead of the usual landing gear. A 
bitter siege at Narvik was relieved by food 
and guns dropped from the skies. "Ver- 
tical envelopment" flowered in full when 
airports and other important objectives 
belonging to the Dutch fell to German 
para-troops and air infantry operating 
independently of land or sea power. 
During the Battle of France armored 
vehicles that outran their surface supply 
units were refueled by sky-truck tankers. 
In the Balkans frequent crashes during 
difficult split-second landing operations 
revealed that the Nazis were quite will- 



116 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



ing to lose a few planes and troops in 
difficult crash landings rather than give 
up the advantage of surprise and swift 
movement. 

In the Cretan campaign tactics sug- 
gestive of Buck Rogers were witnessed 
when the Junkers came over towing long 
trains of engineless gliders. As many as 
six of these gliders, each bearing 12 
armed men, were counted in a single 
train, which gave each of the tow units a 
strength of 90 men. Infantry howitzers 
and anti-tank guns descended by double 
and triple 'chutes. In all, thousands of 
troops and tons of materiel were dropped 
on that strongly defended island. 

The British were frankly surprised in 
Africa when Field Marshal Rommel re- 
ceived more supplies over British-con- 
trolled waters than had been supposed 
possible. Swift little tanks and armored 
cars were sky- trucked to him. The 
Italians used large kangaroo planes, the 
Savoia Marchetti SM-82, which carries 
a disassembled short-range fighter plane 
inside. That Savoia Marchetti is the 
one employed until recently by the 
Italian airline LATI in its long flights 
between Rome and Brazil. 

Deep Nazi inroads along the 2,000- 
mile Russian front in the face of a de- 
termined scorched-earth policy were 
possible last fall because of thousands of 
lumbering Junkers that shuttled up to 
the front lines with fresh troops and sup- 
plies, then returned with full loads of 
wounded men. On this front alone 
during the period June 22, 1941, to 
October 31, 1941, according to official 
Nazi statistics, sky trucks moved up 
42,000 tons of materiel, making 30,000 
trips and flying a total distance of 
12,500,000 miles. In other words, if 
these claims are to be believed, Luft- 
waff'e sky trucks on the Russian front 
moved five times as much cargo in four 
months as was carried by all aircraft, 
military or commercial, in the United 
States during the entire year of 1941. 

If in the 1 942 campaign the Germans 
do not use the Junkers in some new and 
effective manner it will be a surprise. 



Ill 



Supposing we had 15,000 sky trucks, 
how could we put them to best use? 
The answer is to be found in General 
Arnold's prediction that air warfare will 
evolve through use of air infantry. 
Thirty-five hundred sky trucks similar to 
the Army's slick 22-ton, twin-engined 
Curtiss-Wright transport or the Navy's 
30-ton PBY2-2 flying boat (probably 
half of each) would be able to move in 
one long hop the entire personnel and 
equipment of a streamlined motorized 
division of 12,000 men. Once at their 
destination, this fleet of flying carpets 
could shuttle back and forth with fresh 
supplies, more men. Although it may 
be a long time before such bodies can 
advance against strong air and ground 
resistance, eventually they will be em- 
ployed like naval expeditions. In front, 
scouts and fighter planes. Then swift 
"express" sky trucks bearing detach- 
ments of parachute troops and airport 
specialists with bull-dozers, landing strips, 
floodlights, and all other equipment 
necessary to improvise airfields. Finally, 
convoyed by the fighter craft and at a 
slower speed to reduce fuel consump- 
tion and permit greater loads, would 
come the bulk of troops and supplies in 
high-lift "freight" sky trucks, probably 
ten of these to each one of the "express" 
type. 

Cargo gliders might also be used. 
Towed by a regular transport plane, 
three gliders weighing 2,500 pounds and 
with a wing area of 800 square feet will 
each lift about two tons of freight. If 
the tow-plane itself carried four tons, the 
whole tow train would carry ten tons. 
Two Douglas DC-3's could carry eight 
tons at a cruising speed of 190 miles per 
hour. If each towed three gliders they 
would be slowed down to about 150 
miles per hour, but they would transport 
twenty tons. 

Tremendous problems of organization 
and ordnance redesign would be in- 
volved in the formation of such "air- 
madas." A large body of highly trained 



SKY TRUCKS COMING 



117 



men would have to be created. Rut if, 
as has been established, individual air- 
planes can earry 850-pound anti-tank 
guns, 1,470-pound howitzers, 2,200- 
pound jeeps, six-ton tanks, if, in fact, al- 
most any piece of matdriel up to 10 or 12 
tons can be moved in the modern sky 
truck, there is no reason why enough of 
them could not fly a completely equipped 
division. What the Germans have done 
with 3,000-man regiments we can do 
with larger bodies, divisions, and even- 
tually whole armies. 

At a time when sea power has received 
some hard jolts and our merchant 
vessels and tankers are being sent to the 
bottom at an alarming rate, it would be 
a comfort to know that in addition to the 
much needed, costly "Liberty Fleet" 
and the dubious "Sea Otters," thousands 
of air transports were on the way. 

We have to-day a combat air force in 
each of the four corners of the United 
States. Each of these should be pro- 
vided with an airmada such as that de- 
scribed above. Besides enjoying greater 
mobility within our continental defense 
area (lack of it is demonstrated by the 
fact that immediately after Pearl Harbor, 
when it was necessary to move important 
military equipment from Massachusetts 
to a convoy on the Pacific Coast, high- 
way trucks were used and arrived at the 
rendezvous eight days later), we could 
strike and occupy beyond our borders. 

The Northwest Airmada could shuttle 
divisions into Alaska at the rate of one a 
day. The one in the Southwest could 
hop to Hawaii to relieve possible sieges 
there. Our Northeast Airmada might 
concern itself with Greenland and Ice- 
land or even the British Isles, while the 
Southeast group could in two hops en- 
sconce itself throughout the bulge of 
Brazil. Such long hops would require 
large planes of course; but even with 
small serviceable planes like the Douglas 
DC-3, bases in Alaska or South America 
could be reached in a series of 500-mile 
hops. 

Airmadas would give the best possible 
defense in Latin America. Difficult as 



it is for many of us to comprehend, it is 
nevertheless a fact that our Latin-Ameri- 
can neii^dihors do not at this sta^e want 
complete military protection. They ac- 
quiesce in our sending military and naval 
missions and improvinc^ airports for them, 
but any suggestion of larul bases, in the 
sense of troops on the spot, is pohtely re- 
jected. Troops and naval vessels, they 
feel sure, would be the beginning of their 
political end. With an airmada poised 
in the southeast of the United States, we 
could be assured of our ability to place a 
strong military force down there before 
any hostile group could gain a toehold, 
and this without unnecessarily offending 
our neighbors beforehand. 

With 15,000 sky trucks, we could have 
in addition to the four airmadas an 
auxiliary of one or two thousand planes 
for speeding up production of war in- 
dustries. Take warplane manufacture: 
propellers are made on the east coast, 
aircraft frames on the west coast, and 
innumerable paraphernalia and gadgets 
in all parts of our country. A fleet of 
hundreds of freight sky trucks to haul 
nothing but urgently needed objects 
would be a tremendous boon to this vital 
production. 

Ability to send clouds of plodding air 
transports to distant sources of strategic 
raw materials when other means had 
failed would help insure that no black- 
outs fell unnecessarily upon vital indus- 
trial activities. During the First World 
War we experienced a great scare when 
the U.S.S. Cyclops with 12,000 tons of 
manganese failed to reach port from 
Brazil; large quantities of this imported 
mineral are essential to toughening and 
hardening steel. W^artime censorship 
keeps us from knowing of similar inci- 
dents in this war, although recently the 
loss of a single shipment of 500,000 
ounces of quinine (normally a two 
months' supply) was announced. But 
this much is clear: importation of 
strategic materials will be greater in the 
present war than in the last one. Ship- 
ping facilities will be less capable of 
meeting all demands — even presuming 



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HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



that we fulfill our colossal shipbuilding 
program. Furthermore, surface freight- 
ers operate only from one shore to 
another, but sky trucks can .ly over land 
or sea, from remote source to ultimate 
destination. This is of particular im- 
portance as regards suppUes from South 
America, for the sources of many of these 
are locked behind mountains or jungles, 
and surface transportation facilities are 
notoriously inadequate. 

It may be objected that building 15,- 
000 sky trucks involves heavy expense. 
Admittedly a formidable air auxiliary, 
like many other necessary weapons, will 
cost a great deal — from two to three 
billion dollars is a conservative estimate. 
But in a very important sense it will be 
one of our soundest war investments. 
Eventually we shall face a peace. It 
may be a difficult one. Combat air- 
craft, like battleships and tanks, will be 
so much junk. Sky trucks, however, 
and the industry based upon them will 
have continuing usefulness. For the in- 
exorable trend toward speed in all cargo 
transportation insures an important post- 
war future for the sky truck. 

IV 

We know that some of the 185,000 air- 
planes scheduled to be built in the 
next two years will be sky- truck types: 
Douglas DC-3's, Curtiss- Wright Condor 
Ill's, and Lockheed Constellations. (The 
latter is a new ship, and information 
about it is restricted; but it is known that 
it will have a cruising speed of 285 miles 
per hour at 30,000 feet, and a top speed 
of at least 350 miles per hour.) But the 
problem of transportation is becoming 
increasingly severe. A dispatch from 
Washington at the end of April stated 
that the United Nations could already 
out- produce Axis munitions plants but 
could not out-deliver them. Lack of 
sufficient tankers and freighters was 
menacing us on all fronts, and the sky 
truck was beginning to figure more and 
more in the news. The Japanese were 
concentrating on strangling China by 



cutting off the supplies being brought in 
from India through North Burma, and 
there was talk of our providing China 
with a substitute for the Burma Road in 
the form of 100 transport planes. Sup- 
plies landed on India's west coast would 
be transported by rail across India to 
Assam province in the northeast, and 
thence by air 500 miles to China. 
Daily round trips by 100 planes, each 
carrying three to four tons of supplies, 
would transfer from nine to twelve 
thousand tons a month — as much as was 
carried by 3,000 to 4,000 trucks on the 
Burma Road. 

There was talk too of using sky trucks 
to supply guns, light tanks, ammunition, 
aircraft engines, and other materiel to 
the Russian front. Cargo planes could 
follow a route from the northwestern 
United States up to Alaska, thence out 
along the Aleutians to Siberia and over- 
land to air fields behind the Russian lines. 
The Army has ordered a number of 
large-sized gliders which could carry 
troops and equipment and, according to 
an article by Alexis Dawydoff in the 
July Air Progress, it is rumored that the 
British have asked the manufacturers for 
specifications on gliders equipped to 
carry 500 gallons of gasoline to be used 
for refueling heavily loaded bombers 
after take-off"; the bombers would tow 
the motorless tankers aloft, take on the 
extra fuel, then release the glider which 
would return to its base. Cargo gliders 
to supplement the 100 planes in China 
would also vastly increase the capacity of 
the aerial Burma Road. 

Most interesting of all the crop of 
rumors and reports was the statement 
published in November last year by Iron 
Age that, as a first move in the creation 
of a large fleet of stainless-steel cargo 
airplanes, an order for 1,000 of them 
would "shortly" be placed with an 
Eastern manufacturer. It was under- 
stood that these were to be twin-engined 
planes similar to the Army's Douglas 
transports but would utilize stainless steel 
entirely in wing-skin, fuselage, and 
structural components. According to 



bKY 'IKUCKS CUMINU 



119 



Iron Age, llicy would be c<i|):iblc of carry- 
ing complete land veliieles, as well as 
troops and other carj^o, and would he 
especially designed (or landing on small 
fields like most of those in Latin America. 
Government officials and represent;) lives 
of the industry have not confirmed the 
report, and at the moment of writing it is 
still impossible to state for certain that the 
contract will be signed. But at all 
events informed observers in Washing- 
ton believe that a contract for these 
planes may have been let by the time 
this article appears. 

All these evidences of awakening in- 
terest in sky trucks and air-borne supplies 
are encouraging, but a great deal more is 
needed. The following broad principles 
are offered to aid in formulating an im- 
mediate plan for creating a powerful sky- 
truck auxiliary for our air force: 

1 . Set a definite production goal. 

Assuming that our total planned air- 
craft production during the coming fiscal 
year will be 90,000 units, provide that 
one-sixth (which has been roughly the 
German proportion during the past six 
years) or 15,000 of them shall be allo- 
cated to sky-truck purposes. The agen- 
cies that are most in need of cargo planes, 
the Army and Navy, should have time to 
make preparations for their use. 

2. Establish a top priority rating. 
Incredible as it may sound in a day of 

increasing air emphasis, until February 
16, 1942, military aircraft had a ma- 
terials-priority rating inferior to that for 
tanks, trucks, and most naval require- 
ments. At this writing even long-range, 
four-engined bombers still must await 
fulfillment of aluminum requirements of 
battleships which may not be in service 
for a year or two and which like the 
Repulse, Prince oj Wales, or Haruna may 
be sunk in a few minutes by a handful of 
combat planes. This priority rating 
does not augur well for a large sky-truck 
program. Inasmuch as they are just as 
vital to offense and defense as fighting 
planes, sky trucks should at least enjoy 
the present A-l-a rating of combat air- 
craft. 



It has been suggested that sky trucks 
be made of substitute materials, such as 
laminated woods and plastics, thereby 
freeing muc:h-needed aluminum for 
other purp(jses. It is argued that fabri- 
cation will be simplified, tedious riveting 
eliminated, and production made easier 
and quicker. The Defense Supplier 
Corporation charged with placing com- 
mercial sky trucks in South America has 
drawn up several designs that make use 
of substitute materials. Curtiss-Wright 
Corporation, which already produces an 
all-metal transport — Condor III — an- 
nounced recently that it had on the 
drafting board a design for a new plastic 
transport. But the significant point is 
that no sky truck, and for that matter 
no large airplane, of substitute material 
has ever been built. Good blue-print 
prospects often prove unsatisfactory, 
and there is every likelihood that we 
should meet with major trouble either in 
the production or use of sky trucks that 
were made of substitute materials. 

Be that as it may, we simply have not 
time to wait for plastic cargo planes. 
The war has to be fought in 1 942 or 1 943 
at the latest. Anyone who has had the 
slightest contact with airplane fabrica- 
tion will agree that production of a 
distinctly new type inevitably suffers 
from much delay. We have time only 
to select existing tried models and by 
heroic effort expand production of them. 
Metal is a very convenient material for 
mass production — parts can be stamped 
out with great speed as in making auto- 
mobiles. And sky trucks mean real 
mass production, orders by the thou- 
sands, not dozens. 

3. Standardize and freeze a Jew suitable 
designs. 

In combat plane construction it is 
necessary to distribute orders among a 
large variety of types. Probably 40 or 
50 different models are being worked on 
for the Army and Navy to-day. More- 
over, it is necessary to modify each of 
these types continually. Every time a 
new idea is conceived, or copied from 
the enemy, production must be stopped, 



120 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



the tooling changed, and work begun 
anew. Such delays are unavoidable in 
the existing construction program, for it 
is foolish to risk one's fighting pilots in 
any but the very best of equipment. 

With sky-truck production, however, 
little delay need be encountered from 
these sources. Three thoroughly tried 
transports, a short-range landplane such 
as the Douglas Cargo Transport, a long- 
range seaplane like the Consolidated 
PBY2-2, and a long-range landplane 
such as the Curtiss- Wright Condor III, 
may be selected and their designs frozen 
for the duration. Few of the numerous 
gadgets that clutter the modern cockpit 
are necessary; no armor plate, bomb- 
sights, guns — just the most essential 
navigational instruments. The prob- 
lem is one of production alone. 

From my own experience in one of the 
nation's largest aircraft factories, I am 
convinced that production which is 
solely a question of fabrication can be 
expanded much more rapidly than that 
which involves continual design change. 
As an old aircraft foreman once said to 
me, "The worst bottlenecks in airplane 
factories wear collars." 

4. Put manufacturers in the charge of a 
production tzar. 

By tzar I mean a production head who 
has real power, subject to Presidential 
approval, to commandeer factories, tools, 
labor, or anything else necessary in 
order to get quick and extensive results. 
Perhaps the country may see the need 
before long of a tzar for all its aircraft 
production. In this event sky-truck 
production could be handled as a part of 
the larger program. 

The fall of Crete was due to more than 
persistence and good luck. A tremen- 
dous amount of preparation and plan- 
ning went into it. The British had 



been entrenching themselves on that 
island for months. They had over 40,- 
000 troops, controlled the only three 
airports, and were protected from the 
sea approach by strong units of the Brit- 
ish Navy. Strategists of the old school 
insisted that occupation of so tightly de- 
fended a position was impossible. But 
behind the skillfully co-ordinated attack 
of high-level and dive bombers, machine- 
gun strafing fighter planes, and Junkers 
sky trucks filled with parachute and air 
landing troops, lay years of intense prac- 
tice and study. Major Thompson in 
his Modern Battle quotes a British officer 
who witnessed the invasion as saying that 
one after another of the first Ju-52's to 
attempt a landing were "smashed to 
pieces," but the Nazis kept coming until 
the 13th attempt succeeded, and then 
"they went on landing, one plane regu- 
larly every three minutes, losing one, 
then getting another down, then losing 
another." 

The fact that General-of-Aviation 
Loehr could call upon the thousands of 
Junkers sky trucks for his "Task Force 
Crete" was the result of sagacious plan- 
ning which as long ago as 1935 saw the 
importance of large numbers of this 
type of airplane. That they could be 
used so effectively in the face of strong 
opposition testifies to a tremendous 
amount of practice and experimentation. 
We have a long way to go to match this 
Nazi achievement. Yet we must do 
better, for the Germans will not remain 
idle. 

We must accept the perfectly obvious 
fact that the airplane, used as a load 
carrier on a large scale, is a most potent 
and precious weapon; we must at once 
begin building a large fleet of the type of 
aircraft suited to carrying armies and 
their equipment; and we must also plan 
intensively for its most effective use. 




DRAFTING THIS ARMY 



A PROGRESS REPORT ON SELECTIVE SERVICE 



BY FREDERICK LEWIS ALLEN 



THE Local Draft Board meets twice a 
week, in a long session which may 
run from four in the afternoon until 
nearly midnight. There is a meeting 
going on to-night and the atmosphere of 
the Selective Service office is charged 
with suspense; for the action taken here 
is deciding how a number of young 
Americans shall spend the next few 
years of their lives, and in the back of 
everybody's mind is the realization that 
these decisions may be very literally 
matters of life and death. 

This particular office, though it is in a 
slum district of a great city, happens to 
be better furnished than most. (There 
are some 6,500 draft boards in the 
United States and they work variously 
in rented stores, in dingy business offices, 
in basement apartments, in schoolrooms, 
some with good equipment and some 
with very little.) Here the furniture is 
good, there is a carpet on the floor, and 
the records are kept in a battery of mod- 
ern lockable filing cases. Behind the 
Chief Clerk's desk in the outer room is 
draped a big American flag and on an- 
other wall are tacked lively war posters, 
copies of the President's registration 
proclamations, and a bold-face warning 
to registrants to keep the Local Board in- 
formed of any changes in their address, 
their job, their dependents, or their 
physical condition. 

In this outer room there are a dozen 
or more men. Leaning against his desk, 
the Chief Clerk, a harried-looking mid- 



dle-aged man who not only must keep 
the intricate machinery of the organiza- 
tion running smoothly but also must be 
an encyclopedia of the rules and regula- 
tions and a forceful diplomat, is answer- 
ing questions put to him by incoming 
registrants. "Yes, you've got to have a 
permit from this Board to ship to a for- 
eign port. I'll get you the form — use 
this pen and fill it out right here if you 
want. . . . You say your wife is preg- 
nant? You'll have to get a doctor's 
certificate. No, not for yourself, for 
your wife — a certificate that she's preg- 
nant. . . . Well, that makes you a 
neutral alien, so you are classified just as 
if you were a citizen. But if you object 
to doing military service you can fill out 
Form 301 — only if you sign that form 
you can never become an American citi- 
zen. I'll give you a copy and you can 
take it away and look it over. . . ." 

Along one wall of this outer room are 
three desks, and at each sits a member of 
the Advisory Board interviewing a young 
man and taking notes. These Advisory 
Board members, serving as collectors 
and sifters of information for the Local 
Board, are talking with men who were 
deferred last year (put in Class III) be- 
cause they had dependents, and finding 
out just what their present status is, so 
that the Board may decide whether their 
deferments should be continued. Along 
another wall sit five or six registrants 
awaiting their turn at this inquiry. 

Go into the inner room and at its end 



122 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



behind a long table, ycu will see two 
members of the Board sittings in judg- 
ment upon a singularly unmartial-look- 
ing young man who has brought along 
his elderly father and his plump sister. 
The Advisory Board member who has 
gathered information on this dependency 
case has suggested that the young man 
may now be Class I material, and the 
Board members are questioning the 
elderly father about the family finances. 
"How much rent do you pay? . . . 
Have you any money in the bank? . . . 
What bank? . . . What branch of the 
Corn Exchange Bank?" (Even if no- 
body ever checks up on the answers, 
specific questions tend to bring honest 
replies.) The low-voiced inquiries go on 
and on, and line by line the picture of 
the family's economic status is sketched 
in. At the other end of the room an- 
other member of the Board is reading 
last year's questionnaires and picking 
out an occasional one for "re-opening"; 
and in still another corner the Govern- 
ment Appeal Agent, as the appointed 
watchdog of the whole process, is going 
over the records of recent Board deci- 
sions. 

At length the unmartial young man 
and his relatives depart, the two Board 
members behind the table stretch, and 
the Appeal Agent saunters over to them. 
"You fellows made a mistake here," he 
says, showing them a questionnaire. 
"You've put this fellow in Class I and 
he's been convicted of rape. Should be 
IV F. That's a heinous crime." 

"Not to the Army any more," replies 
one of the Board members. "Only mur- 
der and crimes involving drugs and per- 
version. And double offenders and 
habitual criminal types." 

"You're wrong," insists the Appeal 
Agent. "Rape is heinous." 

They call for the Chief Clerk, get him 
to produce the rule-book, find that rape 
is truly heinous, record their enforced 
reversal of themselves on the question- 
naire and on the outside of the rapist's 
folder — that Domesday Book of his Se- 
lective Service history which contains. 



along with his questionnaire, copies of 
all correspondence with him and notes 
on all interviews with him — and dispose 
themselves to face the next registrant, 
who proves to want a temporary post- 
ponement of a month in order to sell his 
interest in his barber shop. They listen 
to him, argue with him briefly, like his 
looks, and grant his plea. 

"That's two more men lost from our 
next induction list," reflects one of them 
sadly. "And we're way short of our 
quota now. Lord, but this thing gets 
tougher and tougher." 



II 

So it does. Just how tough, it is diffi- 
cult for outsiders to realize. For re- 
cently the Selective Service System, al- 
ready strained by the magnitude of its 
task, has speeded up tremendously. 
During the first thirteen months of its 
operation, while the country was at least 
nominally at peace, it produced almost 
a million men for the Army with singu- 
larly little friction considering the fierce 
division of public opinion over foreign 
policy. Since Pearl Harbor it has gone 
into double time — with the result that 
before long it will be well into its third 
million. Up to now the basic demo- 
cratic good sense of the plan, the consci- 
entiousness and fair-mindedness of the 
great majority of the scores of thousands 
of people who administer it, and the real 
devotion and considerateness of the best 
of them have won for it a very favorable 
reputation. Now the problems which it 
faces multiply and this reputation is put 
to the test. 

Let us take a look at these problems. 

The purpose of the Selective Service 
System is to choose for service in the 
Army men who not only are physically, 
mentally, and morally fit but also may be 
removed from civilian life with the least 
possible derangement of the war indus- 
tries, of essential civilian services, and of 
family life. The task has been likened 
to a huge game of jackstraws in which 
the players try to pick out those straws 



DRAFTING THIS ARMY 



123 



which can he Hftcd with (he least dislin b- 
ancc of the pile. To accomplish this re- 
sult cleiiiocratically and wisely three 
principles have been brought into play. 

First, every male in certain age groups 
must be potentially eligible for service 
and must register. 

Second, the System is decentralized 
widely, and the rules on which decisions 
are based are mostly flexible, in order 
that each case may be decided locally by 
a group of citizens — unpaid volunteers 
all — who will have time to consider indi- 
vidual predicaments one by one in their 
infinitely unpredictable variety. 

And third, the order in which these 
cases will be considered is determined, 
not by anybody's whim, but by lot: after 
each registration the men's cards are 
shuffled and then serial-numbered, the 
order in which serial numbers shall be- 
come Order Numbers is ordained by a 
public drawing from the big goldfish 
bowl in Washington, and thus each 
man's position in the line is protected 
from manipulation by the double opera- 
tion of chance. 

During the first year or so that the 
System was in operation the Local 
Boards were mailing out questionnaires, 
fifty at a time, to their thousands of 
registrants — the average Board had 
nearly 3,000 registrants and many had 
4,000 or 5,000 or 6,000— beginning with 
the low Order Numbers and progressing 
through the list; then they were classify- 
ing the men on the basis of the sworn 
information in the questionnaires, not 
even seeing most men face to face except 
in difficult borderline cases; and the men 
who were put in Class I were submitting 
to physical examination and — if they 
passed both this examination and a fur- 
ther one by the Army^ — were going into 
the service, group by group, as the Army 
called for them. The Army decided how 
many men it needed at a given time and 
these figures were broken up into quotas 
for the various Boards. The quota for 
any given Board at any given time was 
determined at first by the number of reg- 
istrants it had, and later, roughly, by the 



niniibcr (jf Cllass I men it liarl. with due 
regard to (Jther circumstances the na- 
ture (jf the ccjnnnunity, the rate at which 
its men were j^assing the Army physical 
exaniinati(jns, etc. — the idea being t(j 
play upon the quota list as upon an 
organ to produce from the various 
Ijoards their fair contributicjns io the 
total. 

During the spring of 1941 — when the 
Army began calling for men in consider- 
able numbers— the machinery creaked a 
good deal. It was hard for the Boards 
and their clerical staffs and their medical 
examiners to do this unaccustomed task 
rapidly enough. The attitude of the 
registrants in those days was usually one 
of resignation to implacable fate but 
often was bewildered or evasive or sullen. 
By the summer and fall of 1941, how- 
ever, the pace had slackened somewhat, 
the Boards were better organized and 
had learned the ropes, and the System 
had got its second wind. 

Then came Pearl Harbor — the big 
speed-up. The actual onset of war 
brought a marked change in the attitude 
of most registrants — less visible desire to 
dodge service, more volunteering for 
induction — though the men who wanted 
to get into uniform at once generally en- 
listed in other ways than via Selective 
Service. The war also enlarged the 
number of eligibles: the men between 28 
and 36, who had been temporarily de- 
ferred since the preceding summer, were 
now available. But as the calls for men 
grew, pretty soon the average Board 
found that it was getting near enough to 
the bottom of its reservoir of men origi- 
nally put in Class I to wonder where it 
should turn next. Must it start re- 
classifying to get more Class I's? To be 
sure, an emergency reservoir of candi- 
dates presently became available. In 
February boys who had reached the age 
of twenty and had not previously regis- 
tered were required to do so; and so were 
the men between 36 and 44 — a far less 
promising group from the military point 
of view. But it became clear that some 
sort of reclassification would be necessary 



124 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



anyhow. And in this fact was concealed 
a hornet's nest of difficulties. 



Ill 

The situation which had been reached 
by midwinter — this past midwinter — 
may be illustrated by looking at the con- 
dition of an average Board with 3,000 
registrants (from its first two registra- 
tions — the first big one in October, 1 940, 
and the little one for the 21 -year-olds in 
July, 1941). This is a purely hypotheti- 
cal Board which I shall describe, but the 
figures which I shall give are based as far 
as possible, in very round numbers, on 
the national averages as of early 1942. 

By midwinter this average Board had 
actually sent into the Army, through the 
draft induction process, some 180 of its 
3,000 men. Sixty more had enlisted 
otherwise in the Army, Navy, Marines 
or Coast Guard, making a total of 240 
men in the services. (Of course this 
total does not include men from the 
Board's district who were already in the 
services at registration time and thus 
were excused from registering.) 

In addition, the Board had some 300 
men in one stage or another of the ex- 
amination process — actually in Class I A 
and awaiting induction, or else awaiting 
physical examination — and of these 300 
it could reasonably guess that about 150 
would get into the Army. (The others 
would belatedly show convincing reasons 
for deferment or would flunk their Local 
Board physical examinations or, having 
passed these, would be turned down 
after their further physical examination 
at the Induction Center.) 

The Board had already put 120 men 
into Class I B after physical examination 
(as fit only for limited military service 
and not then wanted by the Army) and 
also 120 men into Class IV F after physi- 
cal examination (as unfit for service). 

In going through the questionnaires 
the Board had placed 150 other men in 
Class IV — a mixed bag consisting of the 
obviously physically, mentally, or mor- 
ally unfit (cripples, cancer hospital pa- 



tients, insane hospital patients, criminals, 
etc.), the clergy, non-declarant ahens, 
conscientious objectors, and "certain 
officials deferred by law." (Inciden- 
tally, hardly one man out of the 3,000 was 
a duly attested conscientious objector.) 

Into Class II — reserved for men neces- 
sary to the welfare of the community 
(such as policemen and firemen, most of 
whom had been deferred) and men 
needed in war production — this hypo- 
thetical average Board had put only 90 
men. Obviously this figure varied in 
the experience of actual Boards accord- 
ing to the locaHty: it was 210 per 3,000 
registrants in the average Board in 
Connecticut, where many war factories 
were located; it was a little higher than 
that in North Dakota and Wisconsin, 
where the need for maintaining the sup- 
ply of farm labor was strongly felt; it 
might even be 400 or 500 in a war factory 
town; and it was less than 30 in some of 
the Southern States. 

Some 120 men out of the Board's 3,000 
were still unclassified or in process of 
classification. 

Let us see now: 180 men inducted, 60 
enlisted, 300 on the way, 120 in Class 
I B (limited service), 120 in Class IV F 
after examination (unfit), 150 in Class 
IV otherwise, 90 in Class II (necessary 
men), 120 unclassified: that adds up to 
only 1,140 men out of a total of 3,000. 
What about the other 1,860? They were 
all in Class III — deferred because of depend- 
ents. 

Although the regulations had been 
purposely vague on the subject of de- 
pendency, leaving the burden of decision 
very largely on the shoulders of the 
individual Boards, the great majority 
of Boards had been deferring all 
married men (except perhaps recently 
married men suspected of loving Class 
III not less than their brides, and men 
whose wives had other means of support); 
and most Boards had deferred also a 
large number of single men whose fam- 
ilies apparently needed their financial 
contributions. But the standards fol- 
lowed had varied according to the 



DRAFTING 11 1 IS ARMY 



125 



nature of llic cuiniuunity and ihc temper 
of the Board. In a suburban community 
where single men were few and far be- 
tween, the married man was morc^ likely 
to be sent into the Army. In a poor 
urban comnmnity where unemployment 
had been rife there were more single 
men deferred: in an Italian community, 
for instance, where families were large 
and it was the custom for the children to 
give up all financial responsibility for 
their parents as soon as they married, and 
the Depression had hastened the unem- 
ployability of many fathers (so that 
Board members got used to reading on 
questionnaires that the father, at 56 or 
58, was "too old to work"), the remaining 
single sons were likely to be carrying a 
heavy financial load. 

Then too there were tough Boards and 
gentle Boards — indeed, the chief criti- 
cism of the System was that two men 
whose dependency situations were identi- 
cal might be diflferently classified by two 
neighboring Boards; and few of the 
critics realized that such discrepancies, 
bad as they might seem, were vastly 
preferable to a rigid set of rules which 
could not allow for the different stand- 
ards of living in different districts or for 
the infinite variety of special family 
situations. But under the circumstances 
the national draft statistics were less 
remarkable for their diversity than for 
their uniformity. I have said that our 
average Board with 3,000 registrants had 
put 1,860 of them in Class III. That 
comes to 62 per cent. The highest 
percentage of Glass Ill's — reckoning by 
states — was in Utah, where it came to a 
little over 70; the lowest was in the Dis- 
trict of Columbia, where it came to a 
little less than 52. 

Now you must imagine this average 
Local Board confronted with larger and 
larger calls for men. The quotas set for 
it rise sharply. Looking ahead, the 
members of the Board realize that by the 
end of 1942, at the rate the Army is 
expanding, they may be required to 
furnish at least 360 soldiers in addition to 
the 1 80 they have already sent — and the 



figure may run t(; 400 or 500. IVhcre 
shall they find these men? 

To Ijcgin with, they have those 150 
men or so whom we found to be on the 
way to presumable acceptance by the 
Army. In addition recent changes in 
the regulations will help a little. The 
relaxation of the physical standards, 
beginning in February, is already push- 
ing into the Army some of 120 men who 
were originally put in Glass I B (fit for 
limited service only and not accepted 
previously) and may in due course push 
in some or all of the rest. The two lead- 
ing causes for rejection during 1941 were 
dental defects (about 20 per cent of 
rejections) and defective eyes (between 
13 and 14 per cent); and in both of these 
respects the standards are already much 
less exacting. (It must be borne in mind 
that the original physical standards were 
probably a good deal higher than those 
of any European country.) It is a fair 
guess that our average Local Board may 
expect 75 of its previously I B men to 
become available during 1942 — and also, 
of course, that it will find its percentage of 
rejections running lower from now on. 

The reclassification of aliens, ordered 
in March, may produce perhaps 10 or 20 
men for our average Board. 

The registration of the 20-year-olds 
and 21 -year-olds last February may in 
due course produce something like 100 
men, assuming that a third of them will 
qualify for service. The registration of 
the 36-to-44-year-old group, which took 
place at the same time, may also produce 
a considerable number of men; but let us 
guess that our average Local Board, after 
going through the prodigious task of 
classifying them, will find only some 5 
per cent of them available by present 
standards: that would come to only 
about 75 men in this average Board. 
For it is natural to expect that the num- 
ber of men who have no dependents and 
are physically in decent shape would be 
low in this older age group. 

Adding up these very tentative esti- 
mates, we arrive at the conclusion that 
the Board may figure on getting some 



126 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



410 to 430 men from these sources during 
1 942, as against a need whicb may be for 
360 men and may be considerably higher. 
That looks hopeful. There are still fur- 
ther hopes, too. If a new crop of 20- 
year-olds should be registered this sum- 
mer, that may eventually give the Board 
another 25 men or so; and if by new 
legislation the age-limit should be cut to 
18 or 19, these younger boys might 
provide still another 150 or 200. 

But to count on such measures now is 
to look too far ahead. Not only that, 
but to count on completing the classifica- 
tion of the men who registered last Feb- 
ruary in time to fill this summer's quotas 
is also to look too far ahead. The Board 
needs men now. Furthermore it ought 
not if possible even to dip into the 36-to- 
44 group until it has exhausted the 
reasonably available supply of younger 
men, who will on the average make 
better soldiers than their seniors. The 
answer is clear: it must get some if not most 
of its 360 men from the original registration 
group, it must get them by reclassification, and 
it must get them at once. 

It cannot get more than a handful of 
them out of Glass IV (that curious col- 
lection of the unfit and the exempt). 

Nor should it try to get them out of 
Glass II (necessary men, war production 
workers), though this is a conclusion 
often difficult for Draft Board members 
to accept. Nothing has been harder 
for the Selective Service people to swal- 
low than the departure of able-bodied 
young men into the shelter of Glass 
II via the war industries. Any mem- 
ber of almost any Draft Board will tell 
you of some Glass II case that griped 
him — of some young man who was 
clearly military material and quite 
obviously never thought of being an air- 
craft worker till he felt the hot breath of 
the Draft Board on his neck, and yet got 
a job in a war factory and had become 
"essential" before the Board could catch 
up with him. To draft such men now 
might be morally just. But it would be 
grossly mistaken nevertheless. Here and 
there a Board has wisely asked the fac- 



tories in its vicinity to replace their 
able-bodied young single workers as soon 
as possible with over-age or at least mar- 
ried men, and then to let the Board have 
the single ones for military service; and 
in due course — after the vocational 
questionnaire has been sent out to the 
younger men, as it will be — the Boards 
can bring pressure on at least some of the 
younger men-with-dependents to take 
war-industry jobs (if they are qualified). 
But in the meantime it is undeniably 
true that the war production men, how- 
ever low may be one's regard for the 
motives of some of them, are most useful 
to the country where they are. Not 
only that, but the expansion of the war 
industries this year must be so great, and 
the folly of letting the Selective Service 
System interfere with it is so manifest, 
that our hypothetical board may well 
permit its proportion of Glass II men 
actually to increase. 

Inescapable conclusion: the situation 
must be met by taking some of those 
1,860 men out of Glass III (men with 
dependents) ; and the sooner this is done, 
the better. Boards which heretofore 
have been lenient in dealing with de- 
pendency cases may be able to get 300 
or 400 men from this source before dig- 
ging deeply into the new groups of 
registrants; Boards which have been 
more severe will be well advised to 
restrain themselves but should be able to 
get at least 100 or 200. 

IV 

Here, however, our difficulties are just 
beginning. 

The first one is the volume of work 
under which the Boards and their clerical 
staflfs now stagger. The registration of 
the 20-21 group and the 36-44 group, 
last February, added some 1,500 new men 
to the 3,000 which our average Board had 
on its list. To each of these 1,500 men 
the Board had to send both a regular 
military questionnaire and a big card- 
board vocational questionnaire. The 
military questionnaires, when they come 



) RAFTING THIS ARMY 



127 



back to the IJoaid, iiiusl be studied just 
as carefully as the original 3,000 and a 
decision must be reached on each. If 
there is another registration this summer, 
that will mean more ma i hugs, more 
questionnaires, more decisicjns. Two or 
three alert Draft Board men can go 
through from fifty to a hundred ques- 
tionnaires an hour — but at the end of 
that time, if they arc conscientious, they 
will have set aside five or ten borderline 
cases on which they are unwilling to de- 
cide until they have talked with the 
registrant himself and perhaps with 
members of his family too. At this rate 
a careful Board proceeds very slowly 
through a list of 1,500 men. And this 
labor is all superimposed upon the com- 
plex task of classifying and reclassifying 
the original 3,000 men! 

Nor are these the only tasks loaded 
upon the Boards. Consider, for exam- 
ple, the holding of registrations. In the 
Local Board of which I used to be a 
member, in New York, the April regis- 
tration of men between 44 and 65 lasted 
three days and involved the accurate 
listing of some 3,000 older men, many of 
whom did not know English. One 
member of the Board undertook to or- 
ganize this registration. He secured the 
three-day use of a large club cafeteria in 
the same building with the Draft Board 
oflftce. He enlisted several score volun- 
teer registrars and ' assistants and gave 
two carefully prepared lectures to them 
beforehand, rehearsing them in how to 
meet every conceivable problem. When 
the registration began, his assistants were 
ready to check the address of every 
incoming man, to steer the long line on 
its way to the cafeteria tables where the 
registrars sat facing the registrants, to 
direct the man at the head of the line 
(head-waiter fashion) to the first seat 
left vacant, and to provide interpreters 
in several languages for those who needed 
them. It was a fine shipshape job of 
organization — but you may be sure that 
during those three days that member of 
the Board had no time to read ques- 
tionnaires. 



Tic had no lime even to read the in- 
coming bullciins (A instructions from 
Headquarters, which is something of a 
job in itself for these bulletins some- 
times tend to be long, complex, couched 
in legal language rather than in clear 
English, and confusing if not contradic- 
tory. (I remember reading over and 
over, last spring, a bulletin on the proper 
policy with regard to illiterates, and com- 
ing at last to the dreadful conclusion that 
the author of the bulletin in defining an 
illiterate had quite forgotten that there 
might be such a phenomenon as a for- 
eigner quite literate in his own language 
who couldn't speak or understand Eng- 
lish.) The average Board would greatly 
appreciate clear, simple, brief guides to 
policy. And many Board members add 
vehemently that they wish Selective Serv- 
ice officials, in their speeches and public 
statements, would refrain from saying 
things that don't correspond with their 
instructions to the Boards and only con- 
fuse the registrants. 

For the clerical staff, too, the burden 
of work becomes heavier week by week. 
The number of questionnaires, notices, 
and "call-ins" to be sent out; the number 
of forms to be filled out in duplicate or 
triplicate or quadruplicate; the number 
of reports, statistical and otherwise, 
which must be made to State Head- 
quarters; the number of entries which 
must be made in this record or that 
when any action is taken; to say nothing 
of the endless task of merely recording 
changes of address, have long since be- 
come a clerical nightmare. How Draft 
Boards in rural districts cope with this 
mass of clerical detail I do not know; but 
from my personal observation in New 
York and the wrathful evidence I have 
collected elsewhere, it is clear that in the 
cities — and especially in districts where 
many registrants are ignorant or careless 
and do not follow instructions carefully — 
there must be immediate provision for 
the expansion of the clerical staffs. One 
additional clerk has recently been pro- 
vided to look after the vocational ques- 
tionnaires — those huge cardboard docu- 



128 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



ments which are intended to help the 
U. S. Employment Service in ferreting 
out potential war-industry workers who 
are now otherwise employed — but that is 
not nearly enough. 

Moreover it is obvious that in at least 
some of the urban districts the pay of the 
Chief Clerk, which has been limited to 
SI 50 a month, and of the Assistant 
Clerk, which has been limited to SI 00 a 
month, should immediately be increased 
in view of the important responsibilities 
which these men and women carry. 
The duties of Draft Board clerks are so 
intricate and require so much precise 
knowledge of the regulations that volun- 
teer aids are of very little use. "If my 
SlOO-a-month assistant clerk leaves me 
for a job that'll pay her what she's en- 
titled to, I'll be ready to jump in the 
river," said a Draft Board chairman to 
me. The Selective Service System may 
break down from sheer overload of 
necessary detail if its clerical staffs are 
not strengthened and decently paid. 

Now imagine these hard-beset Board 
members and clerks trying simultane- 
ously to classify the 36-to-44 men and 
to reclassify the men-with-dependents. 
Will they be able to do these two jobs — 
and particularly the reclassification, 
which it will be easier to slight — thor- 
oughly and wisely? That introduces a 
human problem. 

The standard of personnel in the Local 
Boards is prevailingly high, but the 
temperaments are as various as human 
nature. There is the impatiently pa- 
triotic man whose one idea is that he is 
recruiting an army and who is inclined 
to breeze through the list of deferred 
men, throwing them heedlessly into Class 
I and regarding their complaints (if 
they make any) as mere cowardly tem- 
porizing. There is the estimable but 
ill-informed man who forgets that the 
merchant marine is a vital service these 
days, or that farm labor is really needed, 
or that $1,000 a year will not keep a 
family of three in a big city; and the 
careless man who does not notice that a 
registrant has said on his questionnaire 



that he is married; and the soft-hearted 
man who is so melted by every de- 
pendency case that if he were left to his 
own devices the work of reclassifica- 
tion would come almost to a standstill. 
With two or more men taking plenty of 
time on each case, the vagaries of judg- 
ment which these temperaments cause 
are mostly canceled out; but the faster 
the pace of the work, the greater the 
likelihood of arbitrary or unfair de- 
cisions. Add to this the fact that the 
questionnaires which are being reas- 
sessed are mostly a year or more out of 
date and the chances of error multiply. 
The job of bringing the information up to 
date — as those Advisory Board men were 
doing in the office which I described at 
the beginning of this article — and of 
coming to sober and careful decisions is 
all too likely to be skimped. 

As this article goes to press. Congress 
is putting through legislation to raise the 
soldier's pay to S42 or more a month, 
and is also considering legislation to 
provide that S20 of this amount, plus a 
separation allowance of S20 additional — 
making S40 in all — shall be sent home to 
his family if he has dependents. (The 
amount may be somewhat bigger than 
this.) There has also been agitation for 
a further flexible allowance for de- 
pendents, to be determined in each case 
in accordance with need and to be 
administered through the Federal Se- 
curity Agency. (This latter plan would 
have the effect, first, of making almost 
every man in Class III economically 
eligible for the Army, and second, of 
putting a large part of the Army on a 
sort of WPA basis under Security Agency 
auspices — which might make the pay- 
ments as politically difficult to terminate 
as a soldiers' bonus.) Just what plan 
will be put into effect it is impossible to 
say at this writing. But this much can 
be said with certainty. If an allotment 
of S40 or S50 a month is decided upon, 
it will make far easier the recruiting of 
some men from Class III without undue 
hardship; but also it will vastly increase 
the temptation to the overloaded Draft 



DRAFTING THIS ARMY 



129 



Boards to reclassify mm hrrdlrssly on a 
wholesale basis on the t^round that 
"dependents are taken care of anyhow.'' 
Now in some farm areas $40 a month 
is quite a sum, but in the cities it is only 
a fraction of what one dependent needs 
to live on; and to a family which has been 
living on, say, a $5,000 scale — with all 
the commitments in rent, etc., which 
that involves — it is almost negligible. 
The passage of such a measure will not 
make it any easier for the Local Boards 
to exercise that wise discretion on which 
the good reputation of the draft has 
principally rested. 



The worst defect of the System during 
recent weeks will fortunately be corrected 
by the time this article appears. Begin- 
ning early this spring, the Draft Board 
physicians conducted only "screening" 
physical examinations — which amounted 
to little more than having the men walk 
across the room before the doctor to 
assure him that they had their full quota 
of arms, legs, and fingers — and the real 
examination was conducted by the Army 
at the Induction Center, whereupon 
some two-thirds of the men were ac- 
cepted and marched right off to camp, 
and the other third of them were rejected 
and sent home; so that a man who had 
given up his job and his room, had said 
good-by to his family and friends, and 
perhaps had sold his belongings with the 
idea that he was going into the Army 
might find himself humiliatingly thrown 
back into civilian life without warning. 

This outrageous system was adopted in 
place of the much more sensible plan 
(used previously in most States) of having 
the Army examination held some days 
before induction, so that men knew 
beforehand whether to burn their bridges 
or not. It was adopted, apparently, for 
what must seem to the layman an absurd 
reason: that once a man had passed his 
pre-induction examination and knew he 
was headed for military service, there 
was nothing to keep him from deciding 



that lieVl rather \)r in the Navy or the 
Marine Clorps, and rlrspitr stern ad- 
monitions from Washington there was 
nothing to keep Navy or Marine Corps 
recruiting oflicers from accepting him. 
So the Army decided to induct him as 
soon as it made sure he was qualified. 
As I write, this generally condemned 
system is to be modified by offering the 
newly inducted men furloughs long 
enough to permit them to go home and 
wind up their affairs. The new plan, 
scheduled to go into full effect in June, 
is a vast improvement. 

A possible future threat to the System 
lies in the possibility of group deferments 
— rules saying that men doing this .sort of 
work or that must be deferred. Nothing 
could do more to destroy the strongest 
asset of the draft. Some bulletins from 
Headquarters have pointed out at length 
that it is possible for a labor leader, or a 
moving-picture man, or a coal miner, to 
be essential and therefore deferrable. 
Quite true — but to make such deferments 
mandatory would turn Selective Service 
into a football for pressure groups. 
Likewise Senator Taft's proposal for rigid 
rules of classification as to marriage and 
dependents would kill that very flexibil- 
ity which is so valuable. 

Otherwise I see no glaring fault in the 
System which cannot be overcome by the 
distribution of some money to strengthen 
the clerical staffs, by the simplification 
and clarification of bulletins of instruc- 
tion from Headquarters, and by inde- 
fatigable labor on the part of the Local 
Boards. 

The Selective Service System was 
soundly conceived. Much criticized at 
first because it would not provide us 
either with a small and highly trained 
mechanized army or with a sound basis 
for permanent conscription, it proved on 
the declaration of war to be just what the 
doctor would have ordered: a fair and 
orderly method of expanding the Army 
indefinitely. Its decentralization of de- 
cision and its volunteer character hav^e 
been great assets: the caliber of the 
Board members is so prevailingly high — 



130 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



despite the temperamental aberrations 
of which I have spoken — that Selective 
Service answers to the description of 
most American war e iterprises which 
reach all the way out into the communi- 
ties — the individual units do a better job 
on the average than the co-ordinating 
authorities, because they are manned by 
people, no less able, who have the ad- 
vantage of being face-to-face with their 
problem instead of having to guess at it 
from a far-away desk. 

Some enormously hard work is done at 
the Local Board offices. Few people 
outside the System have any conception 
of the amount of unpaid, thankless, and 
often distasteful labor which has been 
put in by the Board members, Advisory 
Board members. Appeal Agents, Appeal 
Board members, and examining physi- 
cians. I can think of one New York 
Board, for example, in which a retired 
business man slaves every day from nine 
till seven or so, and another one spends 
several hours every afternoon, with no 
compensation beyond his satisfaction 
over the job done. 

The effectiveness and democratic rep- 
utation of the System are vastly enhanced 
by the fact that in this war — as compared 
with 1917-18 — there have been very few 
pipelines to officer's status in the Army 
for young men of wealth and social posi- 
tion. The Army, as it expands, is 
officering itself from the ranks; during 
1942, for instance, it expects to send 
95,000 privates and non-commissioned 
officers to Officers' Candidate Schools, 
and to graduate 75,000 of them. Inci- 
dentally, of all the criticisms of Selective 
Service that I have heard, one which I 
should have expected to hear often I 
have heard only once — the criticism that 



the rich get deferred — and in that one 
case the man who uttered it had suffered 
no injustice at all: he simply did not un- 
derstand how the Order Numbering 
system worked and angrily guessed that 
the rich boys got the high numbers. 
(Nor shall I soon forget the almost eager 
way in which the members of the Board 
with whom that young man was reg- 
istered put sons of the well-to-do in 
Class I.) 

The result of these democratic arrange- 
ments has been not only to make our 
Army personnel perhaps the best, man 
for man, that ever was recruited any- 
where, but to change remarkably the 
public attitude toward the private sol- 
dier. In towns which have been his- 
torically Army towns, the private may 
still be unwelcome in the best restaurants 
and bars; but in other areas he seems to 
be accepted unquestioningly everywhere. 
The other evening I noted the presence 
of five or six privates in an especially 
fashionable grill in New York and asked 
an old habitue of the place whether their 
like would have been found there in 
1917. "No," said he. "I don't know 
if they would even have been admitted. 
At any rate they'd have felt uncom- 
fortable in the same room with those 
colonels and lieutenant commanders." 
A small matter, that, but big in its un- 
derlying significance. And it is largely 
the product of the working of the Selec- 
tive Service System. 

A great task has been performed on 
the whole admirably to date, quietly and 
without public applause. Now it is be- 
ing put to its hardest test. If it comes 
through with colors flying it will de- 
serve the unreserved congratulations of 
the nation. 



i^%^^'^ 




THE FRENCHMAN SIX FEET THREE 



BY GLENWAY WESGOTT 



ROGER Gaumond when I first knew 
him was wonderfully handsome. 
He had one of those faces reminiscent of 
a young Roman of the decline and fall, 
a good-natured Antonine or a grand- 
bourgeois Antinous. But even then 
people laughed at him because, for a 
Parisian, he was huge. He was six feet 
two or three, with statuesque shoulders, 
and ideal hands which got in the way, 
and feet like a pedestal. He had attrac- 
tive blue eyes in which there was a 
sparkle of worry, and he was blond with 
very white skin. I remember that per- 
spiration would appear on his noble 
forehead if he got into the least emotion 
or effort, and a good many things made 
him blush. When I was last in France — 
in 1 938 — he had begun to look somewhat 
gross and sad. His grandeur inclined to 
be fat, his pallor had turned sallow, and 
there was something spoiled about his 
romantic mouth. 

He was the sole son and heir of a well- 
known family of the more or less grand 
middle class, with money. His father 
was an industrialist of consequence, and 
he himself had a good position in a small 
manufactory on the left bank of the 
Seine beyond Sevres in which his grand- 
mother and one of his great-aunts had a 
controlling interest. I think he did not 
care much about his work except for the 
remuneration of it. He never com- 
plained, he rarely made any reference to 
it at all. He lived by himself in a pleas- 
ant apartment in the Rue Constant, in 
the aristocratic arrondissement of Paris, 
that is, the seventh. He cared about 



old furniture, at least to the extent of 
furnishing his rooms painstakingly and 
as nobly as he could afford. He also 
owned a little house outside Paris, at La 
Miel in the valley of the Chevreuse, 
where he spent certain months in the 
spring and summer, driving to work and 
back in a small but elegant Buick. He 
enjoyed gardening, priding himself al- 
most boringly upon the special seeds and 
foreign bulbs which he was able to bring 
to bloom at La Miel amid his quincunx 
of apple trees. 

He loved music more than all else, 
particularly Mozart and Wagner, travel- 
ing annually to Salzburg and Bayreuth 
for the Festspiele. In the past ten years, 
year after year, he had come home with 
an unhappy appreciation of the efhcacy 
of the new German state and the might 
of the modernized German army. Even 
in 1938 you risked being called pro-Nazi 
if you prophesied too well in that way; 
and some of his friends, especially British 
and Americans, did call him one. He 
simply said that it was disgusting of 
them. I think he felt so absolutely part 
and parcel of his native land that it 
would not have occurred to him that his 
patriotism could be doubted, except as a 
joke, and a joke in bad taste furthermore. 

He was an odd inexpressive fellow. 
He kept the life of his senses a mystery, a 
mystery to me at least. His life of the 
spirit seemed all concentrated in a 
certain cool, habitual, and often grum- 
bling friendliness toward such Americans 
as Linda Brewer and myself, and certain 
cousins of his who lived in Versailles, and 



132 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



especially toward a good scholarly fellow 
named Alain Raffe. Bpth Roger and 
Alain Raffe were quite happy young 
men, I believe; but somehow the ex- 
pression of displeasure and unhappiness 
seemed to come more naturally to them 
than any enthusiasm; and in their gen- 
eral view of life perhaps they never really 
expected anything very good to last very 
long. 

While I was in Paris that spring of 
1 938 Roger was summoned to do reserve 
military service for a fortnight. He had 
been told that it would be in some portion 
of the Maginot Line, somewhere between 
Metz and Sedan. This stirred my cu- 
riosity or my imagination, no doubt 
because I have found the martial archi- 
tecture of France wonderfully satisfactory 
to my aesthetic sense, more so in many 
ways than the ecclesiastical or the resi- 
dential — especially the works of Vauban, 
and little Aiguesmortes like a lily with 
open calyx and pistil and stamens of 
stone, and that star of masonry lying on 
the shore at Antibes, and great theatrical 
Pierrefonds. Multiply all that by hun- 
dreds of miles, adorn it with the obscurest 
modern inventions, I imagined, and you 
would have the Maginot Line. Some- 
times indeed I still catch myself day- 
dreaming of France as having something 
of that kind upon its borders: edifices 
brooding distantly in the dull landscape 
of the departments of the East and 
Northeast, a battlement as permanent 
as the Pyramids. 

Roger, I must say, when he was called 
up did not seem inspired by any such 
mental picture. A little tartly he sug- 
gested that, for him, the fortnight ahead 
meant having to work like a dog in a 
place probably like a cellar; and in fact, 
in general, for all concerned, national 
defense must be a matter of working like 
dogs, not of a taste for austere architec- 
ture. 

He asked Alain and me to dine with 
him the night of his departure for those 
famed bastions. He had to take an 
early train, so he suggested our coming 
to the Rue Constant in the late afternoon 



for a drink and a farewell chat. His 
apartment was in one wing of what had 
been in the great past a ducal palace, 
overlooking a garden. There were plat- 
bands in which the spring flowers were 
green but had not yet begun to blossom; 
and there was a little line-up of trees 
under Roger's window leading back to a 
fine small rococo pavilion occupied by 
his landlady, who was a cabinet minis- 
ter's widow. 

While we drank and chatted we helped 
Roger into his uniform, which had been 
sent to his apartment for him to depart 
in. And when I say we helped, it is not 
just in a manner of speaking. For it was 
too small for him by some four or five 
inches in every dimension. His long 
and not very muscular forearms as well 
as his blue-veined wrists and white hands 
protruded out of the sleeves of the faded 
blue tunic. Between the tops of the 
boots and the bottoms of the breeches 
there were absurd extents of calf over 
which we had to wind the puttees with 
the greatest care, securing them with 
safety-pins. Happily, the boots them- 
selves were roomier than the other items, 
and by leaving them unlaced, resigning 
himself to certain blisters, he was able to 
walk well enough, clumpingly. The 
exiguity of the topcoat did not matter; he 
would carry it over his arm. The 
exiguity of the breeches was the real 
hardship, which could not be helped. 
They bifurcated him within an inch of 
his life; and there was real reason to fear 
a giving- way in the seat or elsewhere if he 
made any sudden motion. 

At first all this seemed to amuse Roger, 
but by the time we had completed him as 
a military man he had begun to take a 
dark view. "How sad this is," he ex- 
claimed, in those tenor tones which they 
use in France when things go wrong. 
"How they have made me ridiculous! 
How idiotic it is!" 

Then, sore-footedly and with grotesque 
precaution, he practiced walking up and 
down his fine salon. He had furnished 
it with a variety of old beauty, very fine: 
black and brass cabinets of the great cen- 



THE FRENCHMAN SIX FEET THREE 



133 



tury — that is, the seventeenth — and a 
bronze bust and a good gilt clock and 
ancestral curtains; and it had an ornately 
inlaid old floor. It was a strange sight, I 
thought — the huge improvised soldier in 
the peaceful setting, in his garb of war so 
poverty-stricken, stricken and cramped, 
skidding a Httle on tlie beautifully waxed 
wood. It was very funny, though now 
naturally it does not seem so. 

He strode, if in breeches so uneasy it 
could be called striding, across to one of 
the tall windows and he gazed into the 
garden. "It's sickening! It's idiotic!" 
he said again. 

Then he remarked that he was 
ashamed to be caught in this disgraceful 
typical national plight by an efficient 
American like myself: limping off to 
one's military service, trussed up in some- 
one else's pants ! I reminded him not to 
be too sure of America's efficiency. I 
stood there at the window for a moment 
gazing into the garden with him. There 
was a flicker of candles in the great 
political widow's windows; she had 
guests. In the six o'clock light the 
gravel of the path past Roger's wing to 
her door looked like seed pearls. There 
was a cool breeze coming up as the 
evening fell, and the short green ribbons 
of young narcissus waved in the angu- 
lar flowerbeds along the path. "How 
pretty it is, don't you think?" said Roger. 

After dinner we accompanied him to 
the Gare de I'Est. French railway ter- 
minals are all somewhat alike, I suppose, 
and surely the Gare de I'Est is not the 
largest and shabbiest; but that night it 
seemed so. It had an atmosphere of 
limbo, it was as cold as limbo. 

There were hundreds of friends and 
relatives saying good-by on the platform, 
a long rough fringe of average humanity 
all along the train that poor Roger had 
to take. Having been away from France 
for years, I was affected by this crowd as 
if it had been music, memory-laden and 
homesick. Indeed it was not my home 
but it was a place wound into my thought 
and my senses too closely, too long, ever 
to be unwound or forgotten. I had not 



forgotten the particular body odor of 
Frenclinien in a mass Hke this, rather like 
a vaseful of stale carnations, it seemed to 
me; carnations and a little garlic. I 
noted once more how many of their com- 
monest faces have visionary eyes and, 
once more, I was made uncomfortable by 
their jostling which is less innocent and 
friendly than the American way but no 
less democratic. 

Until the whistle of departure blew, 
some young men with their darlings and 
a few couples probably married kept em- 
bracing as it is done in France, face to 
face, with their arms round each other 
rather low, clasped in the small of each 
other's back. Now and then they took 
deliberate kisses and then seemed to be 
brooding separately on love, each staring 
up and straight ahead over the beloved 
shoulder. 

There were as many mothers as wives 
and sweethearts; and when the whistle 
blew finally, peep peep, all this female 
assembly, maternal and enamored alike, 
suddenly appeared to sag and shrink, 
left behind together, deprived of their 
chief interest, their fond hearts without 
focus. It changed the physical aspect of 
the crowd a little all the way down the 
platform. 

It was a long train composed of those 
small wooden coaches which are a pecu- 
liarity of France, like little old chicken- 
coops on wheels. I was pleased to see 
that Roger, the giant, could indeed stand 
up inside one; but in order to talk to us 
from the window of his compartment he 
had to stand with his legs wide apart and 
his knees bent; his tight shoulders more 
than ever like those of Atlas, with a world 
of self-pity and sophisticated sense of 
humor on them. 

Peep peep, and the long lightweight 
train, low on its wheels, slid out into the 
dark, eastward. And then a hundred 
hands were flung up, very white; even 
the grimy hands looked white in the weak 
illumination of the train shed. It was 
one long flutter of farewell so intense that 
it was rather like a desperate beckoning 
to come back. 



134 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



Of course there is great love every- 
where in the world, and the abuse and 
defrauding of pleasure everywhere. But 
France was the place, I suppose, where 
the average man and woman got the 
most out of their faculties of love. In 
this way and in their close family ties 
they probably always have been more 
vulnerable than other nations. Now 
indeed it is obvious how bad for them it 
must be to have a couple of million of 
their men in the prime of life kidnapped 
away and kept away; the best breeding- 
stock of the country rounded up behind 
barbed wire. That was one thing which 
in my darkest sensibility to Europe in 
1938 I did not anticipate. Yet this de- 
parture of men, this farewell of women, 
seemed to me almost sinister. I knew 
that men departing to military service 
were the hope of France; one hope of the 
whole world for that matter. I really 
had no reason to fret about them except 
that their raiment and paraphernalia and 
even the coaches in which they traveled 
looked a hundred years old. 

When Roger returned two weeks later 
it was near the end of my European holi- 
day; and engagements and errands had 
so entangled me that I had to put off see- 
ing him. Then he invited me to spend a 
day at La Miel, which I did, on the sec- 
ond, or perhaps the third, Sunday in 
April. I had tired myself out in cer- 
tain difficult intimacies in Paris, and was 
in a mood to be amused by such a care- 
less companion as Roger; and further- 
more Linda Brewer also had a house at 
La Miel. She is a really old and fond 
friend of mine, one of my generation, a 
fellow- writer whom I really admire; not 
a novelist but a journalist in the great 
way, personal, unpretentious, and scru- 
pulous, which I admire almost as much 
as the art of the novel. As she had a bet- 
ter judgment of the French, and a more 
courageous prophetic feeling for entire 
Europe, than anyone else I knew, I 
wanted to see her once more before I 
returned to our country. 

She had a stint of writing to do that 
Sunday, so she could not invite us to 



lunch. Roger and Alain Raffe and I 
spent all the middle of the day outdoors; 
Roger at work in his garden with a seri- 
ous breathlessness and an earnest account 
of the why and wherefore of everything, 
Alain and I pretending to work and to 
listen. For two weeks I had been think- 
ing of Roger as deep down inside the 
mysterious Line, in a labyrinth, in a 
cellar. It surprised me to find him a lit- 
tle tanned or at least weathered. He 
looked well. Now he was taking an al- 
most gluttonous pleasure in his flower 
beds, kneeling and crawling, poring over 
every infant bit of green, plunging his 
hands out of sight into the mulch and the 
soft dry sifted soil. 

I had no spirit to gossip, I could not 
listen, I could scarcely think, in a spell 
of the admiration and melancholy of 
France, now that I was about to leave it 
again. Over Roger's low orchard walls 
one could gaze a long way into the valley 
of the Chevreuse, a landscape with no 
flatnesses, with no heights, with scarcely 
any character except its mere attractive- 
ness. The sunshine was so clear, the 
blue of the sky so sharp, that the earth 
seemed lacking in color. For several 
kilometers around it looked like a draw- 
ing in pastel, with the color a little 
rubbed off" or blown away from the de- 
sign, and some color blowing powdery in 
the air, in the breeze. The breeze was 
what they call a wind in France, and it 
had been so for almost a month, with 
extraordinary brilliance day after day, 
and drought and quite cold nights. It 
was a bad spring for fruit trees. Even 
Roger's sheltered and rugged apple trees 
were affected, blooming now with what 
was rather like a bud broken open than a 
proper blossom; and the brownish pink 
of the petals indicated that they would 
open no farther. But all the milky sweet- 
sourness peculiar to apple blossom ex- 
haled down from the heavy branches, in 
which bees were working stubbornly, 
reeling and blundering in the bad energy 
of the air. 

About four o'clock we strolled over to 
Linda's for tea and sandwiches and 



TIIK FRENCHMAN SIX FEET THREE 



135 



wliiskcy. It was chilly then, and our 
tired Frenchmen were glad to sit by the 
fire with Mrs. Lavcry, the beautiful 
friend with whom Linda livc'd. F.inda 
and T sat by ourselves on the far side 
of the room and talked our polities, in- 
ternational polities — Great Britain and 
America, America and France, France 
and Germany — with a certain wisdom, I 
do believe, relatively speaking, though 
surely we were unpretentious enough 
about that. We were quite honest in our 
narrow hopes and great general dread; 
no doubt we were very clever, and we 
felt that we were intelligent; but we did 
not pretend to be wise, even to each 
other. 

We have in common — at least we have 
together — moods of an odd combination 
of unashamed sentiment with some 
toughness or hardness. And now little 
by little, in allusions amid what we had 
to say about politics, we were bidding 
each other an extraordinarily fond and 
significant kind of farewell. "When are 
you sailing?" she asked, and I told her. 

"You know, you're quite right not to 
stay here," she said. "No one is going to 
be able to write fiction in France from 
now on. Do you think you will be able 
to, even at home, when the war gets go- 
ing? Oh, I wish I could go home with 
you! How I envy you, in a way." 

But she corrected herself. She did 
not envy me, she said;' it was only her 
sentimentality and imagination. To stay 
in France as long as it was humanly 
possible was her fate. Because it was 
fate of course she herself did not alto- 
gether understand why it was. "But I 
shall be the last to leave. The last 
Middle-Westerner on this peninsula of 
Europe, of Eurasia." 

I approved of her staying. If she 
must she must, I said. But then I 
rather made fun of her or, you might 
say, fun of the evil fate coming up to en- 
gulf perhaps everyone on earth. "Don't 
be too brave, don't stay too long. You 
will be a great nuisance to us." 

"Why?" 

"We'll have to come and rescue you. 



WeMl have to send a destroyer to get yuu. 
We'll find you in the foi^ on the sands at 
the foot of the Phare cTCJuessant, or up 
on one of those crazy pinnacles of the 
I''ini.strre coast, waving your silk IkhkI- 
k('rchief. We'll take ycju cjff the rocks in 
a breeches-buoy." 

I thought it a good joke in my way, a 
pretty scene, and it still sticks in my 
imagination: one of those inlets or coves 
of a matchless crazy beauty in Finistcre, a 
dead extremity of the body of Europe, a 
broken tip of the index-finger of Eurasia. 
There is a seashore of dead-white stone 
which the ocean has half eaten; it is as if a 
cave had opened and its stalagmites had 
come out and were standing about. 
There are enormous skulls of the stone 
lying there and the ocean keeps cleaving 
them open, pulling the teeth and washing 
the sinuses; and the wind meanwhile 
preys upon the ocean, goring and sawing 
it and gagging it and hurling it into the 
stalagmites and the skulls, with its gray 
blood and disgusting spit spattering in 
the air for kilometers inland. It is one 
of those scenes which are impressive be- 
cause they are reminiscent of human pas- 
sion at its bitterest, of human physiology 
at its hardest, of starvation and sex and 
surgery and the like; but amid which 
actually a human being looks and feels as 
minute and shabby and functionless as a 
trained flea, badly trained at that! 

"You have powerful friends, dear," 
I told Linda. "And you're worth a de- 
stroyer." 

I have a loud voice, and across the 
room Roger and Alain and Mrs. Lavery 
heard this. They sighed and shrugged 
and smiled, probably regarding us in 
spite of affection as persons of excessive 
fantasy and wild talk. Just then Linda's 
old housekeeper entered with the tea and 
whiskey and bread and cheese, and we 
moved over to the fireside. 

"I wish we were powerful," Linda 
said. "We," she insisted, with emphasis 
on the first person plural, "are not 
powerful." 

It charmed me to find on the tea-table 
a poor old copy of The Methodist Hymnal, 



136 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



the earliest book of my life except per- 
haps The Wizard of 0^.^ Linda had 
bought it for five francs from a stall on 
the Quai Voltaire and had just been 
looking in it for a quotation. It started 
us talking of the great moral effects of 
congregational singing, Catholic versus 
Protestant, and then we spoke of na- 
tional anthems. Mrs. Lavery was a 
musician, a lifelong student and prac- 
ticer of singing who intended to make a 
career of it. The month before last she 
had been engaged to sing our excessively 
difficult "Star-Spangled Banner" at a 
Washington's Birthday banquet. 

Meanwhile I had been turning the 
pages of the hymnal, with pleasure and 
almost pathetic reminiscence of my Wis- 
consin childhood. Thanks to my moth- 
er's teaching and devout influence, this 
kind of simple Protestant music is second 
nature for me. I told Linda and the 
others how, as a boy soprano with high 
notes like those of a strained flute, I was 
sometimes paid as much as three dollars 
to sing at funerals, standing beside the 
coflfins in little country parlors fumigated 
with tuberoses. It impressed them. 
Then I suggested our singing a few 
hymns. Roger and Alain refused but 
Linda and Mrs. Lavery were charmed to. 

The latter had a fine high voice, 
trained as the French train their singers 
especially for the German repertory, with 
a golden tubular tone. The difficulty 
for her seemed to be that her exquisite 
physique was not stalwart enough for the 
volume of sound she had learned to pro- 
duce. It made her pretty neck, which 
was like a water bird's, throb, and the 
note would slip. I played the piano. 
Linda sang now the alto, now the tenor 
notes. 

I love looking at Linda when she talks, 
as I think everyone does; and there is 
much the same charm when she sings. 
She is not what is called a pretty woman; 
all her features, her nose, her brow, her 
lips, are somewhat too strong or too dis- 
tinctive. And when she is silent you can 
see how her spirit and excess of expres- 
sions have aged her face, a little in an- 



ticipation or in advance of the way she 
will look in due time anyway. As it is, I 
think her appearance is not likely to 
change much as she grows older. I 
regard her as fairly typical of our gen- 
eration of emancipated, vagabond, inter- 
national American, with a naturally 
worried mind but never discouraged in 
the least, cynical but conscientious — a 
pleasant enigma to most Europeans. 
Sometimes, when the matter of her talk 
or her thought is unhappy she has a look 
of almost ugly indignation. Then in the 
other extreme, her good humor will turn 
to a kind of wildness and glee, and she 
makes a comic face which is extraordi- 
nary, like a Greek mask. She dresses her 
hair in a lovely rough bob all round her 
head; it is gray hair, filaments of iron or 
spun ashes. In those old days in France 
she wore a monocle. 

To sing, she put in her monocle and 
held her head a little to one side. We 
sang Watts' "Man Frail and God Eter- 
nal," most appropriate: "Like flowery 
fields the nations" — that is, I thought, 
the democracies — "stand, pleased with 
the morning light." We sang poor in- 
sane William Gowper's "God moves in a 
mysterious way, His wonders to per- 
form." We sang "Joy to the world," to 
Handel's tune, which would have made a 
better national anthem than the one we 
have. 

I happened to look up over the grand 
piano and observed that our Frenchmen 
could scarcely bear it. Their large 
figures were slumping in their armchairs. 
Their faces, in the mixed daylight and 
firelight, showed no more animation 
than a pair of carvings in white wood. 
It was as if all feeling had moved out of 
them somewhere else, as if their hearts 
had fled, because it had become intoler- 
able to feel anything, in proximity or in 
conjunction with whatever it was they 
were thinking. They were both Roman 
Catholics, although neither of them pro- 
fessed any belief. Perhaps the hue and 
cry we made was hard for them in the 
theological sense. We were real Ameri- 
can Protestant-pagans, all three of us. 



THE FRENCHMAN SIX FEE J IIIRIE 



137 



Upon second tiiouj^lit I suppose it was 
the matter of nationality rather than the 
matter of faith. Superior French of th(! 
chiss and scliooling of Roger and Alain 
do often regard us as a not quite civilized 
people, which does not hinder them from 
generally liking us. Roger and Alain 
particularly liked us three and must have 
assumed that we were a good deal less 
than one hundred per cent American. 
But there we were, with loud united 
voice and absent united mind, un- 
abashed, absorbed in a native Sunday- 
afternoon ceremony. As it must have 
struck them, this was the old Adam com- 
ing out in us too, the old American 
Adam. We were powerful, we were 
happy, and furthermore, we were some- 
what outside civilized history; and they 
loved us; and presently we would with- 
draw from them in fact as well as in 
spirit. Heathenish and cold-blooded and 
heartbreaking, we doubtless would go 
away and leave them. 

Then Linda had to do some more 
work and it was time for us to dine, so we 
returned to Roger's. Alain, who was 
expecting a long-distance call from his 
father in Brussels, hastened on ahead. 
It was a cold twilight with a great fra- 
grance, particularly that fermenty fra- 
grance of sod which has lately been fro- 
zen or frosted. There was an afterglow 
folded in cloud. We strolled down a 
narrow old lover's lane, under trees pre- 
served in loving-kindness to a great age, 
then along a field of little vines all nursed 
and cut and healed and kept in harness, 
then along a soft orderly brook, and 
across a meadow on a well-worn path. 
Suddenly huge Roger turned toward me 
and talked to me. 

"Listen, Alwyn," he began. He said 
my peculiar name almost as if it were 
Hallowe'en without the H. He stood in 
the middle of the path and talked fast. 
"Listen, Alwyn, I must tell you this. I 
did not care to mention it in Linda's 
presence; she would think it a good thing 
to put in an article for Harpefs or The 
New Torker. And that would be worse 
than not telling it at all, because the men 



who are inipcjrtant never, on principle, 
believe a thing that they read in articles 
or in the newspapers. And there has 
been, my lord, enough (jf the shame of 
France. I am ashamed. I will not see 
any more of it in print. Not even 
abroad; not even when it is written by 
those like you and Linda who still feci 
that you are our allies. And, alas, if the 
Germans ever come to the conclusion 
about us that I've come to, God save us! 

"I tell you this, Alwyn, because you 
must know some men who have power in 
New York and Washington. You can 
speak in our behalf, to impress upon 
them the necessity of helping us. Un- 
less you stand by us we shall fail you. 
You cannot depend on us unless you help 
us." 

"Roger," I interrupted sharply, "what 
are you talking about? What in the 
world is this?" 

It was, as I might have guessed, the 
feebleness of the army of France, the in- 
efficacy or ignorance of the government 
of France, the numerical if not personal 
inferiority of the French, the inadequacy 
of the heavy industry of France, the 
futility of the eastern and northeastern 
fortifications; in general, the hopeless 
imparity between the French and their 
enormous evil incomparable enemy. 
Roger had suspected all this for some 
time, and his two weeks' service in the 
Maginot Line had settled it for him. 

"We are lost, we have not a hope, it is 
finished. France is past. Oh, God, I 
am so tired of thinking about it ! How 
can we go to war, in the perfect certainty 
of defeat? What do the English expect 
of us? They despise us and yet they de- 
pend on us. When it is all over you will 
all say that we were cowards, crooks, 
degenerates, a nation of eunuchs. But 
how can we fight well when we have seen 
with our own eyes, to start with, that 
we have only old guns, little tanks, 
a few planes, and that crazy line of 
fortresses which the Germans under- 
stand perfectly, and not one of us has 
learned anything up to date, no one 
knows what to do?" 



138 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



I could not exactly see Roger's face, in 
the double-focus light of"1:he dusk, not 
night yet but nocturne. But I did not 
need to see it. I knew what expression 
of the idleness of grief it wore. Irri- 
tably, stubbornly, I began to assure him 
that his pessimism was not to be trusted 
and that, in him and others like him, it 
constituted a worse disadvantage to the 
Republic than the shortcomings which 
inspired it. 

Unfortunately my heart was not alto- 
gether in what I said. For if, at any 
time during the past decade, I had been 
asked whether in my opinion France had 
a first-rate army, I should have answered 
no. This was of course nothing but an 
impression, based on casual glances into 
various casernes and camps; on long 
waits at street corners for certain parades 
to pass; on conversations with some 
young men, soldier boys or ex-soldier 
boys who did not mean to tell me any- 
thing in particular, who suffered from 
none of Roger's emotion. 

As I remember, whenever you encoun- 
tered the French army, there was a kind 
of gypsy atmosphere; it was agreeable, 
amiable. You saw as it were great un- 
tidy picnics of the military maneuvering 
along the roads, with the right idea and 
ideal surely, and businesslike in some 
ways, but with unbecoming uniforms and 
quaint-looking guns, with improvisation 
and patchwork. Inside aged masonry 
of a hundred traditional fortresses you 
could always discover something human, 
picaresque or idyllic or melancholy: little 
old temperamental mules, little old ar- 
dent officers, a mess table outdoors with 
fragrant soup in tin basins, a flutter of 
body linen drying on a clothesline. All 
over France you heard a bit of the music 
of the trumpet at dawn or at dusk, diver- 
timento^ as innocent, as rustic as a rooster 
crowing or a whippoorwill. 

What Roger had to report, or rather to 
express, was a little worse than my im- 
pression; but probably that was because 
it meant more to him than to me. It 
was nothing very interesting, it was not 
news. He stood astride of the path wav- 



ing his heavy arms, chattering rather 
than shouting. It was a mere outburst 
of simple conviction; refreshing in a 
sense, in France, where even in sadness 
there was usually too much moderateness 
and doubt. It was an outcry, an al- 
most poetical generalization. His words 
themselves were flat and middle-class. 
A word here and there gave the idea, as 
in an opera, and the voice did the rest, 
that extraordinarily light voice, coming a 
little incongruously from the bulk of his 
shadowy figure in the empty meadow. 

Really it amounted to nothing more 
than that the Maginot Line had been a 
bitter disappointment to him. He must 
have had false hopes of it after all, some- 
thing like my dream of martial architec- 
ture which he had made fun of. In his 
actual report of his two weeks it was hard 
to tell exactly what was what; he had no 
reportorial talent. I wanted to inquire 
how long it had been before they had 
issued him a comfortable uniform, but he 
did not mention it and I was afraid of 
seeming to mock him. He did not really 
satisfy my curiosity in any respect. As I 
say, his mind was all lyricism and criti- 
cism. The Maginot Line has remained, 
to my mind, an enormity of mythical 
building with especially my Roger in it, 
my tragical, laughable giant talking so 
much and saying so little that was 
memorable or quotable. 

He told me that the officers were 
severe with the men, but ruefully, like 
doctors keeping some secret. The men 
were not insubordinate or even sullen. 
They were rather, as to the possibility of 
war before long, the limitations of their 
equipment, and their own shortcomings 
in the sense of aptitude for war and train- 
ing for war, tactful with one another. 
None of them of course knew for a fact 
that their materiel was inferior to the 
enemy's, but all of them somehow had 
been given some suspicion of it. They 
respected one another, and they had 
self-respect; but as to the guns and shells 
and instruments and supplies they were 
working with, they had only a sense of 
humor. As it had seemed to Roger 



THE FRENCHMAN SIX FEET THREE 



139 



their good behavior itself, given all these 
implications, was ominous. 

As French as can be, Roger then tried 
to explain the state of mind in the Line 
l^y referring to a book. "Have you read 
Les Caves du Vatican?'''' he asked. 

I had indeed; it is Andrd Gide's fan- 
tastic satire in which the Pope has been 
kidnapped and secretly imprisoned in 
the Vatican basement and an impostor 
has taken his place. Roger said that in 
the Line you kept thinking that there 
must be some supreme superior officer 
over all the other officers, and perhaps he 
was an impostor, perhaps he was de- 
ranged, perhaps he was a dead wraith. 
In any case the others did not understand 
the orders he gave, but as they re-gave 
them they pretended to. 

The particular fortress to which Roger 
had been sent was an old building, built 
by the Germans in 1912 or 1913. When 
the victorious French recovered Alsace 
they found it in good condition and they 
economically incorporated it into their 
new battlements. 

"The droll thing is," Roger said, "that 
we never troubled to remove the German 
signs painted up on the walls inside it 
here and there, over the doors, in the cor- 
ridors. Signs like Damen and Herren^ not 
really Damen and Herren; there were no 
Damen except in our dreams. All the 
other things to do and not to do, Vorsicht, 
Stufe, and Rauchen und spucken streng unter- 
sagt, for example. We left all that just 
as it was, in the messy, funny Gothic 
letters, to save money." 

His accent in German was good, and 
evidently it amused him to speak it. 
"All the Achtungs, and the Tiir unter 
keiner Bedingung zu qffnen, and all the 
Verbotens. I tell you it had an effect of 
hallucination. It was a German fortress 
anyway, and sometimes when I was tired 
I fancied that we were Germans already 
and did not know it." 

This made Roger laugh, and in laugh- 
ter — as it often happens, praise God, in 
all sorts of human emergency — he sud- 
denly began to recover his composure. 
We went on our way home then along 



the path. We foimd Alain j^laying the 
phonograph and we listcncfl for a quar- 
ter of an hour. Then we dined, very 
leisurely and W(!ll; and after dinner we 
gossiped of indifferent aecjuaintanccs, 
certain musicians and the children of 
certain friends, and went early to bed. 

A few days later, when I said good-by 
to Roger for who knows how long or per- 
haps forever, I suddenly realized that I 
had scarcely any affection for him left. 
The drama of France was too great, and 
his personal unhappiness and indigna- 
tion about it too small, small and ab- 
stract. He had a broken heart, which 
is a sick, stupid thing, I said to myself. 
As a rule those whose hearts are really 
broken may as well be given up as a bad 
job. Unless they are quite young, one 
can do nothing with them or for them. 
Roger was truly patriotic and perhaps 
truly sensitive to the future, yet I had an 
impression of laziness all woven in with 
his feeling. Certainly, I thought, there 
must have been something more to the 
point for him to do than to unburden 
himself to a mere vacationing American 
strolling across a crepuscular pasture 
upon an April evening in the valley of 
the Chevreuse. 

No doubt it was and still is foolish to 
judge France by men like my Roger, 
either in condemnation or in excuse. 
The man who makes an outcry is never 
quite the same as the inarticulate fellow- 
humanity behind him. And perhaps 
even my impatience with Roger individ- 
ually was unjust. All over the world 
better men than he have done no more 
than he; and the majority of good men 
did not even have his foresight and 
emotion. 

I still wonder at the simplicity and the 
courage of the chiefs of state allied to 
France in basing their policy and strategy 
upon the military might of the French 
and the obscure fame of those battle- 
ments in Alsace. I suppose they never 
happened to meet any Rogers. I find it 
hard to believe that our brilliant Ameri- 
can foreign correspondents, brave honest 
indefatigable fact-finders, never discov- 






140 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



ered that the French army would be 
good for nothing in a modern war. 
Probably they did discover everything, 
but, in their passionate aevotion to the 
democratic cause, lest they discourage or 
demoralize their readers, kept imposing 
upon themselves a certain self-censorship. 
Now in New York I often discuss this 
with my friend Linda, but it is a mystery 
we cannot solve. 

She was not in fact the last to leave 
France — far from it; no breeches-buoy! 
In May, 1940, she came home, for a few 
weeks, as she thought, because her father 
was in danger of death; and meanwhile 
France surrendered and she could never 



get a passport to go back. The last we 
heard of Roger was that in June, 1940, he 
was in some sector of the Maginot Line 
between Sedan and Metz, perhaps in 
that same fortress of the German inscrip- 
tions, Vorsicht and Verboten. That, as 
Linda reminded me the other day, was 
where the German army slipped through. 
So probably he is now behind barbed 
wire, or laboring as a slave upon a high- 
way or an underground airport or some 
other wonderful project of enemy engi- 
neering. I like to think that, as his Ger- 
man is excellent and he loves Wagner and 
he is an amiable creature, he gets on well 
enough with his captors. 



OMEN 

BY EDWARD WEISMILLER 

WA TCH him — there: the observed bird of disaster 
Roughed by the sour wind, upborne by sky; 
How he hangs, blacker than doom — drifts away faster 
Than follows the unhinged eye. 

His poise insures survival. All the sputter 
Of the thin brain that pulses in his skull 
Serves this, or nothing — is without this the mutter 
Of the latched sea in a sunken hull. 

Recall him, man. Recall his casual balance, 
Out of the reach of your opinioned flight. 
Then think of Lucifer, whose orderless talents 
Toppled him down through centuries of night. 



» 




HOW LATIN AMERICANS DIE 



AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT 



BY CHARLES MORROW WILSON 



THERE ARE roughly a hundred and 
twenty million people in Latin 
America, from the Rio Grande to Gape 
Horn. At this very moment it is a good 
bet that at least fifty million of them are 
sick. Sick of everything from sprue to 
leprosy. Sick of almost all the diseases 
that we in the United States encounter 
in our own lives, and of other savage and 
highly fatal diseases about which we 
know almost nothing. 

A figure of fifty million sick men, 
women, and children is only an approxi- 
mation, but reasonably close to the truth. 
It is too huge to be understandable. 
Doctors themselves, in the course of their 
professional work, generally think of sick- 
ness in terms of individual patients. 
Only gradually and partially has it begun 
to dawn on the experts in the field of pub- 
lic health that sickness in Latin America 
is as much a condition of life as weather 
or food. Fifty million sick people signify 
a society of sick men. 

Recently the inhabitants of both con- 
tinents of America have been subjected 
to a barrage of well-meaning literature 
which tried to interpret each to the other. 
We have discovered a good deal about 
how Latin America lives and is gay. 
But we have heard very little about how 
Latin America dies. A knowledge of 
how millions of our neighbors meet every 
year cruel, untimely, and unnecessary 
deaths is essential to an understanding of 
the problems facing our southern neigh- 
bors. Latin America's public enemy 



number one is neither Nazi nor Japanese; 
it is disease. The operations of this 
enemy are harder to check and will con- 
tinue to be far more dangerous to us of 
the North than anything imported into 
Latin America out of Mein Kampf. 

It is a fact that in Guba and in the 
Panama Ganal Zone yellow fever has 
been practically conquered and malaria 
considerably curbed. But consider a few 
other figures: The average life expectancy 
of a resident of the United States, as of 
1940, was about 62 years and 5 months. 
In Latin America, according to the best 
statistics now available, the average life 
lasts between 15 and 35 years less than 
that, depending on the locality in which 
it is lived. In Ghile the life expectancy 
is about 35 years; in Peru, less than 32; 
in Mexico and Uruguay, well under 
40. 

These shocking figures are not due to 
the fact that most Latin Americans live in 
rural areas and most citizens of the 
United States in cities. In many coun- 
tries to the south it is true that health 
statistics for rural areas are even more 
alarming than those for cities. But 
when you compare city with city the pic- 
ture is much the same. The average 
yearly death rate per thousand people in 
the fifty largest cities of Latin America is 
more than twice as high as the death rate 
in the fifty largest cities of the United 
States. 

Such figures mean something almost 
horrifying by the standards which we 



142 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



NEW YORK 9.S 




Mexico.:'./ 
CITY 7.^.6 



QUITO, i^-^ :■■'::)■:: 

ECUADOR ••.2i'2.- 



PbRU 20.5 



LA PAZ, 

BOLIVIA 2?.4'r:v.^/ 



SANTIAGO, 
CmLE 24.8 



Average yearly death rate per thousand people in 
some urban centers 



normally employ in thinking about our- 
selves. Suppose our national death 
rate from disease doubled in a single 
year? We should then be talking about 
"plagues," and we should promptly de- 
vote every possible resource to bringing 
the death rate down till we could again 
regard it as normal. 



II 

Almost as important as the death rates 
themselves is the analysis of the causes 
of death. When the Latin-American 
causes of death are tabulated alongside 
those of the United States a significant 
difference becomes apparent. To un- 
derstand something of what that differ- 
ence means it is useful to look also at what 
were the ten principal causes of death in 
this country in 1900 — less than half a 
century ago. 

Above everything else this table [as 
shown on the opposite page] empha- 
sizes how nearly our own medicine 
has come to conquering the pathogenic — 



or disease-causing — organisms as sources 
of fatality. Look first at the right-hand 
column. Only three of the ten entries in 
it are the result of organisms hostile to 
man. You cannot catch a bad heart 
from your neighbor at the movies or from 
the bite of an insect. Cancer, cerebral 
hemorrhage, nephritis, diabetes, arterio- 
sclerosis — all these are failures, one way 
or another, of the human machine. Au- 
tomobile accidents are not even that — 
unless you think intelligence ought to be 
organic. Some organism is undoubtedly 
at the bottom of the influenza-pneumonia 
group; tuberculosis is the result of a 
bacillary infection; and diarrhea-enteritis, 
which ranks tenth on our list, is also the 
result of various pathogenic organisms. 
But it begins to look as if we in the United 
States were well on the way to dying only 
when our bodies are worn out or broken 
by automobiles. 

A single glance at the column of Latin- 
American causes of death will reveal 
how differently the cards are stacked for 
our southern neighbors. Eight of the 
ten principal sources of fatality in their 
countries are the result of hostile organ- 
isms, and only cancer and heart disease 
are not. Not until the middle column of 
the table comes to resemble the right- 
hand one will Latin- American medicine 
have been able to contribute to its popu- 
lations the life span and freedom from 
infection which we are fortunate enough 
to enjoy to-day. 

The left-hand column, which presents 
the causes of death in the United States 
in 1900, suggests how swiftly we have 
benefited, as a group, from our medical 
advances. In less than a single lifetime 
we have largely eliminated no fewer 
than three organism-borne diseases which 
were mighty killers forty-odd years ago. 
Diphtheria, typhoid, and bronchitis are 
no longer major sources of fatality in our 
own country, but the first two still are in 
Latin America. Indeed, a comparison 
of the causes of death in Latin America 
to-day and in the United States four 
decades ago reveals a striking simi- 
larity. 



IIUW LATIN AMERICANS 1)1 L 



143 



In the I hiilfd Slates 
in l<K){) 

lnlliu"n/.a-j)iicui)i()iiia 

'J'ubcrculosis 

Diarrhca-cniciitis 



Tni I IN I'ki.Ncii'Ai Cahsks oi 1)i 

/;/ I Ml in Anieiica 
I u-d(iy 

Tuberculosis 

Influciiza-i)iK'uin()iiia 

Malaria 



In thr I lulrd States 
7 o-daj 

Heart disease 

Infiueiiza-pneunionia 

Cancer 



Heart disease 




Diarrhea-enteritis 


Cerebral hc-ni{;rrha'^'.- 


Nephritis 




Cancer 


Nejjhrilis 


Cerebral heinori 


hage 


Diphtheria 


Tuberculosis 


Cancer 




Infantile paralysis 


Automobile accidents 


Bronchitis 




Typhoid 


Diabetes 


Diphtheria 




Heart disease 


Arteriosclerosis 


Typhoid 




Meningitis 


Diarrhea-enteritis 



It would be comforting to note tiiis 
similarity and decide that in forty more 
years the Latin Americans will probably 
have caught up with where we now are, 
and that there is nothing to worry about. 
Unfortunately the situation does not 
permit us to do that. Here in the north 
we like to believe that we stand almost 
isolated from the attacks of these minute, 
disease-causing organisms which run riot 
in the south. But are we really safe? 
The fact that Spanish-American coun- 
tries are harassed by infective diseases 
ought to be a matter of deep concern to 
us. We are sending a part at least of our 
new Army to the American tropics, 
where our men will be exposed to these 
lethal hazards. There is no virus-proof 
door standing shut between us and our 
southern neighbors either. The health 
of Latin America, just as much as its 
economic welfare, has become a vital 
problem for the United States. 

We know that to-day increases in 
military and commercial travel among 
the American nations are helping to in- 
crease the death toll of disease. In 
Guatemala and Cuba the reported 
malaria rates more than doubled during 
194L Four years ago malaria was so 
rare in Cuba that it seemed headed for 
extinction. From 1935 to 1939 in 
Oriente — Cuba's largest state — hospital 
admissions for malaria were only about 
one in a thousand entries. But as the 
United States Navy began expanding its 



Guaiilanamo base and importing hun- 
dreds of non-immune workers and serv- 
ice personnel from the United States, 
malaria began to increase in the region 
about the bay. Hospital admissions for 
malaria suddenly increased fiftyfold. 

This, like a hundred other timely 
items in inter-American health news, 
merely serves to prove that as armies and 
navies move, and as general migration 
increases, disease germs do the same. 
Inter-American travel is growing rapidly. 
Early opening of the Pan-American 
Highway may double it. Disease germs 
cannot be forced to recognize national 
boundary lines, and we have forged so 
far ahead of our southern neighbors in 
the suppression of general contagions 
that most of our people have no im- 
munity whatever to the principal con- 
tagions to the south. 

Ill 

In the year 1939 some 47.2 persons 
out of every hundred thousand in the 
United States died of tuberculosis. By 
no means a record to be proud of, that 
figure nevertheless indicates a paradise 
of immunity compared to the Latin- 
American situation. As the illustration 
on the next page shows, Colombia is 
the only southern republic with a 
tuberculosis rate lower than that of the 
United States. 

In South and Central America, as 



144 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



UNITED ^TATE^ 47.2 
CUBA 82.0 



^^=::^DOMlH\CAN REP. 64.7 



EL SALVADOR 6\.0 / / 




CO^TA RICA 85.9/ 



PANAMA 210.0^ / / 
COLOMBIA 46.6 / 



ECUADOR 70.2 



PARAOUAV 102.4 



CWILE 276.0 



/BRAZIL 250.0 

\ / 

\ URUGUAY 109.0 

\ 
ARGENTINA lOj.O 



Deaths from tuberculosis per hundred thousand 
population 

elsewhere, the menace of tuberculosis has 
tended to increase as the concentration of 
population in cities increased. Add to 
this the fact that a large proportion of 
Latin-American population is Indian, 
and you have some explanation of the 
terrible gravity of the disease; for the 
Indian, from the time of the conquista- 
dors, has been extremely susceptible to 
pulmonary ailments. 

To turn for a moment to the cities 
again, the figures suggest that the only 
reason more Latin Americans do not die 
of tuberculosis is that more of them do 
not yet live in metropolises. In New 
York City the death rate from tubercu- 
losis is 49 per hundred thousand; in De- 
troit it is 44.7; but in Santiago, Chile, it is 
430; in Lima, Peru, 435; and in Guaya- 
quil, Ecuador (1939 figures), it was 693. 
Particularly in Chile and Peru, tubercu- 
losis is in a stage of infectious virulence. 
Dr. Aristides A. Moll, secretary of the 
Tan-American Sanitary Bureau, says 
that in a certain Chilean city 50 per 
cent of all children of six or under were 



infected with tuberculosis, 80 per cent of 
those from six to fifteen, and in two 
groups between the ages of sixteen and 
twenty-four the percentage of infection 
was 85 to 90 among middle-class persons 
and 100 among workers. 

Quite evidently Latin America's tuber- 
culosis menace is not limited to any 
particular altitude, type of climate, or 
density of population. It exists at sea 
level in Montevideo and two miles above 
sea level in La Paz. It threatens the 
Indian, the Negro, the Spanish native, 
and the European. Defense against it is 
one of the foundation stones of any future 
Pan-American civilization. 

Typhoid, dysentery, and other water- 
borne diseases are actual, not merely po- 
tential, menaces in the Latin countries of 
this hemisphere. Malaria is as great a 
scourge as ever, in spite of public state- 
ments which give a contrary impression; 
and Latin-American malaria is no mere 
matter of simple chills. It is a chronic 
illness causing death and disability in 
tremendous numbers in all the lands 
south of Texas. Infantile paralysis is 
ravaging hundreds of communities which 
never knew it before. Trachoma, an 
insidious disease of the eye which fre- 
quently results in blindness, is occurring 
more frequently than ever, particularly 
in the highlands. Latin- American deaths 
from diseases long since controlled in the 
north, such as smallpox, diphtheria, and 
measles, are still twice as high in propor- 
tion to population as they are in the 
United States. 

The last major epidemic of yellow fever 
in the United States occurred in New 
Orleans in 1905 — several years after 
it had been proved that mosquitoes were 
the agents for the spread of the disease. 
Since that epidemic in Louisiana it is 
fairly safe to guess that not one United 
States physician in a hundred has so 
much as seen a case of yellow fever. 
True. But even so, the next epidemic 
may be just round the corner. 

In South America large areas of the 
enormous Amazon basin and of southern 
Colombia are still reservoirs of the very 



now l.ATliN .\\li:i<l(;.\.\.S 1)11, 



145 



yellow fever whieh our writers and 
drainalisls have eelebrated as long since 
eonciuered. Yellow fever is no st(jry- 
book disease, lis mystery has Ix-rii 
solved onee, but it refuses to slay s(jlved. 
The organisms of yellow fever attack 
man by way of the blood of jungle ani- 
mals. The Rockefeller Foundation's re- 
searches have recently proved that it can 
be transmitted by other mosquitoes than 
the stegomyia (Aedes aegypti) which 
Walter Reed and his colleagues made 
infamous and which, in the years be- 
tween, medical men hopefully believed 
to be the only carrier. So long as jungle 
animals and mosquitoes remain alive in 
Latin America, the United States is not 
safe from yellow fever. Such safety as 
may be attained can result only from 
the expenditure of vast sums for sanita- 
tion and inoculation campaigns like 
the one which the government of Brazil 
(influenced by a 1,700 per cent increase in 
yellow fever deaths between 1908 and 
1 938) is now carrying on. 

Typhus, a disease which few North 
Americans ever thought of before the 
recent news from the Polish ghettos, and 
which almost none of us associate with 
the Western Hemisphere, is now all but 
extinct in the United States. During 
the past year, however, alarming out- 
breaks of it have been reported from 
Mexico, Cuba, Brazil-, Venezuela, and 
Salvador, with from a third to a half of 
the cases resulting in death. In Chile 
the disease has been on the rampage 
for a decade. As recently as 1933, 
15,379 cases with 3,596 deaths were re- 
ported there. Fortunately for all the 
Americas, Chile has been able to get 
the better of the disease for the time 
being; but the threat is still there. 

Since 1 902 smallpox has been a more or 
less minor disease in the United States. It 
continues to threaten Latin America. 
Less fortunate Mexico, according to its 
health department, suffered 15,000 small- 
pox deaths as recently as 1 930, as many as 
5,000 in 1935, and 3,500 in 1937. Yet, 
like most of our other nineteen neighbor 
republics, Mexico is doing what she can. 



making a brave struggle to control con- 

la^i(jus cHscasc. Ilcr gross exjKtnditures 
lor pubHc-lKMhli ;i(hninislraii«Hi have 
risen a hmiclrcdli^ld mii(c 1';00. 



IV 

Thuugli infinitely poorer than the 
United States, most Latin-Ann^rican na- 
tions are much more liberal ihan our- 
selves in their financing of the defense 
of public health. They have to be. 
Since 1909, when Cuba led the world in 
organizing a national Ministry of Health, 
all Latin-American countries have es- 
tablished federal health services; but the 
work of these agencies, capable and 
courageous as most of them are, remains, 
through no fault of their own, far short 
of sufficient. Since most of Latin Amer- 
ica lies in the tropics or subtropics, cli- 
matic conditions such as the human sys- 
tem in the United States rarely has to 
contend with encourage disease germs to 
flourish during all twelve months of 
the year. The unbelievable isolation of 
large sections of the population in vast 
expanses of jungle, mountain, and desert 
where public servants are few, communi- 
cations are scarce, and clinical facilities 
and modern equipment are lacking, 
make the control of disease in Central 
and South America as difficult as the 
carrying of water in a sieve. Racial 
prejudices, the scarcity of independent 
medical practitioners, the high percent- 
age of illiteracy and bitter poverty 
throughout much of Latin America help 
to deliver over our less fortunate neigh- 
bors to the enemy. 

The family with little or no income 
cannot choose its food for vitamin con- 
tent. Records of the United States Pub- 
lic Health Service make it plain that in 
North America families with incomes of 
less than $2,000 per year suff'er about 
twice as many days of sickness each year 
as do those with incomes of $3,000 or 
more. Take a fine-tooth comb and go 
through the population of Latin America 
to see how many incomes of even S2,000 
you will find. North Americans — al- 



146 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



lowing for the fact that there is not a 
superabundance of $2,000 incomes in 
the United States — simply cannot under- 
stand how small the average Latin- 
American income really is. The small 
incomes not only mean restricted food. 
They mean small governmental income 
and hence restricted outlay for public 
health. They make it harder for the 
governments of Central and South 
American nations to provide purification 
of the water supply, in spite of their 
energy and their recognition of the 
gravity of the situation confronting 
them. Latin America remains a chronic 
victim of water-borne diseases such as 
typhoid and amoebic dysentery. In 
thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, 
of Latin-American communities impure 
drinking water remains a constant dan- 
ger. With the possible exception of 
some of the overcrowded parts of South 
Asia and the East Indies, South America 
presents drinking-water problems as seri- 
ous as those of any part of the world. 
Latin-American populations inhabiting 
what is potentially the world's greatest 
food-producing region suffer acutely 
from malnutrition and from the scores of 
diseases or "symptom complexes" result- 
ing from inadequate diet. Beriberi, 
pellagra, and numerous other nutritional 
diseases are as standard to submarginal 
diets as vests are to three-piece suits. 
So, probably, are leprosy, amoebic in- 
fections, tropical ulcers, tuberculosis. 
Certainly the latter four are poor man's 
diseases. With few exceptions, they are 
most virulent where poverty is most in- 
tense and diet is least adequate. 

It takes no keen perception to notice 
that touring microbes, like human tour- 
ists, frequently misbehave upon arrival 
in the tropics. For example, Latin- 
American death rates from what we 
consider merely nuisance diseases, such 
as measles and chickenpox, are several 
times greater than in the United States. 
Pneumonia is more frequently fatal south 
of the Rio Grande than north. Influ- 
enza kills its victims more than twice as 
often. Malaria, lightly regarded in the 



United States, is a positive plague among 
peoples to the south. Here in the north, 
according to the United States Public 
Health Service, we have something like 
four million chronic cases of malaria; 
but the parasites which cause them are 
preponderantly of the mild or plain chills 
and fever order: in medical parlance, 
they are "benign." Not so the Latin- 
American variety. The greater part of 
Latin-American malaria is of the viru- 
lent, body-blasting type, such as tertian 
or estivo-autumnal. This last kind is 
widely known in some Spanish-American 
countries as the economico, because it is so 
almost certainly fatal that there is no 
sense wasting money on doctors and 
drugs to treat it. 

There are a hundred other examples 
of the ruthless intensity of Temperate- 
Zone diseases transplanted to the tropics. 
Ironically enough, the overwhelming 
majority of Latin America's diseases 
are imported from Europe. Dr. George 
Cheever Shattuck of the Harvard School 
of Public Health, one of our distinguished 
students of diseases of the American 
tropics, has declared: "One can say 
with certainty or a high degree of proba- 
bility that nearly all the more deadly 
diseases known in the New World since 
its discovery by Columbus have been 
imported from the Old World within 
historic times. This is probably true 
also of the minor epidemic diseases and 
of many other infectious diseases as well." 

The meningitis rate in Chile is about 
twenty times that of the United States. 
Bubonic plague, the louse-carried neme- 
sis of medieval Europe, persists through 
half a dozen South American nations. 
Latin-American death lists from cholera, 
scarlet fever, smallpox, lobar pneumonia, 
and some fifty other principal diseases, 
all probably imported, give a new and 
unpleasant interpretation to that thread- 
bare phrase, "the white man's burden." 



Conquest by contagious disease, not by 
Spanish or other European arms, proved 



o\v LA'JiN ami:kic:axs die 



147 



the supreme tragedy of an Indian-popu- 
lated Western Ilcinisj^licre. The con- 
quistadors made their best progress when 
following in the wake of contagions 
which they tiiemselves had brought to 
the New World and sent on before them. 
Capable scholars have estimated that no 
fewer than twenty million Central and 
South American Indians died of Euro- 
pean contagions during the course of 
Spain's American conquests. In 1633 
the chronicler Antonio de la Calancha 
noted that "for each dollar coined in 
Peru, ten Indians died." Between 1520 
and 1820 Andean-Indian populations 
apparently fell from a probable five mil- 
lion to a bare half million. The great 
race of the Incas was consumed in the 
holocaust of European disease. As small- 
pox swept Mexico and Yucatan, great 
cities vanished from the earth. Peru 
was ravaged by at least eight fearfully 
destructive epidemics, Brazil and the 
other Amazon countries by at least seven, 
the West Indies by more. Those were 
only the major epidemics. There must 
have been thousands of unrecorded local 
outbreaks. 

Time and time again earlier historians 
of the New World had written of lands 
and people almost or entirely free of 
disease, of aborigines of Brazil, Cuba, 
Santo Domingo, and other American 
lands who were still without gray hair at 
eighty, who died of sheer old age at a 
hundred or even a hundred and twenty 
years. 

But the picture changed when the 
white men came. Transplanted Euro- 
peans were about as helpless in combat- 
ing the ruinous epidemics they brought 
with them as were the New World Indi- 
ans. In 1584, while Central America 
was being decimated by typhus, Spain's 
governor general could do no better than 
command that bonfires be built in village 
plazas, that cannon be fired all day long 
to cleanse the air of evil humors, that 
nuns be freshly shorn, and that the popu- 
lace pray to St. Rosalie. By the nine- 
teenth century most of Latin America 
was a confirmed sick man's society. 



Spain and much of Europe looked west- 
ward to a New World grown sparse and 
bleak by contagi(jn. 

Latin America is still a sick man's 
society. Those who first learned to want 
something of the Western Hemisphere 
made it so. We who now want Latin- 
American friendship and support will 
have to join in a declaration of war 
against this distinctly European heritage. 
The current struggle for health is our 
war too; our neighbors cannot hold the 
fort for us indefinitely. 

Actually, Latin-American medical tal- 
ent and governments have been putting 
up one of the stanchest struggles in all 
history. They are making heroic eff"orts 
to-day to use the best sera, vaccines, and 
tests, the best pharmaceuticals and the 
most modern therapies. From their own 
native populations they are developing 
hundreds of first-class men in medicine 
and surgery — names to rank with our 
own Mayos, Murphys, Gorgases, Reeds, 
Lazears, and Carters. They are making 
a science and a profession out of public- 
health administration. They are edu- 
cating doctors, dentists, surgeons, and 
sanitary engineers. 

In the United States we have schools or 
courses in tropical medicine in only 
five universities — Harvard, California, 
South Carolina, Louisiana, and Tulane. 
Latin America has about twenty. Puerto 
Rico's Institute of Tropical Medicine and 
Hygiene, founded in 1917, is the oldest in 
the Western Hemisphere. Brazil's Os- 
wald Cruz Institute, Argentina's North 
Argentine Mission, Panama's Gorgas In- 
stitute and Hospital, and the national 
medical schools in Rio de Janeiro, Mon- 
tevideo, Lima, Mexico City, Havana, 
and Buenos Aires are among the more 
valuable defense posts against the still 
ruinous onslaught of tropical disease. 

Brazil was the first nation of this hem- 
isphere to establish a medical laboratory. 
That was in 1880, only two years after 
the founding of Germany's first medical 
laboratory and seven years before the 
United States Public Health Service 
opened its first "hygiene laboratory" in 



148 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



New York, which was the first in the 
United States. Every Latin -American 
nation now has its National Red Cross, 
several of which are older than ours. 
Brazil and Argentina were world pioneers 
in founding anti-tuberculosis leagues. 
South American countries had public 
hospitals and asylums long before we did; 
and Latin America now has as many hos- 
pitals as we have, though they are smaller 
than ours and have to cope with a far 
more serious need. 

But the task is far beyond present 
Latin-American resources. In a society 
of people who are pretty largely healthy, 
as we are, fewer doctors, fewer clinics, 
fewer hospitals are required to take 
care of public health. Our resources of 
roads, railroads, and automobiles have 
made centralization of health facilities 
possible, and they have also extended the 
working range, so to speak, of doctors 
themselves. In proportion to what is 
needed, the medical resources of all Latin 
America are still fearfully inadequate. 

In Latin America as a whole, popula- 
tion is increasing about three times as fast 
as in the United States; yet in terms of its 
known resources, most of South America 
is still greatly underpopulated. In terms 



of public health, however, the situation 
looks very different. Much of the land 
now standing idle and unproductive 
simply cannot be occupied, and for a 
good reason — men cannot work there 
and live. 

Dr. Ricardo Piravanos, a distinguished 
Argentine surgeon, recently declared that 
the pooled spending for a decade of some 
$350,000,000 annually — approximately 
three dollars per capita for the popula- 
tion of Latin America — could produce 
results which would make Central and 
South America as healthy as North 
America now is. 

Latin America's gigantic problem of 
disease comes down to this: Hemisphere 
solidarity cannot be built on a sick man's 
society. Latin America cannot live as a 
contributing factor in Western Hemi- 
sphere or world civilization until it has 
conquered its health problems. Since 
the first days of the Monroe Doctrine we 
have considered that it was our job to 
help protect the southern nations from 
political aggressors. To-day, and even 
more urgently, it is our job to help Latin- 
American nations protect themselves 
against the aggression of disease. 








^ 



IN PRAISE OF KIPLING'S VERSE 



BY T. S. ELIOT 



THERE are several reasons for our not 
knowing Kipling's poems so well as 
we think we do. When a man is pri- 
marily known as a writer of prose fiction 
we are inclined — and usually, I think, 
justly — to regard his verse as a by-prod- 
uct. I am, I confess, always doubtful 
whether any man can so divide himself 
as to be able to make the most of two 
such very different forms of expression as 
poetry and imaginative prose. If I 
make an exception in the case of Kipling 
it is not because I think he succeeded in 
making the division successfully, but 
because I think that, for reasons which it 
will be partly the purpose of this essay 
to put forward, his verse and his prose 
are inseparable; that we must finally 
judge him, not separately as a poet and 
as a writer of prose fiction, but as the 
inventor of a mixed form. So a knowl- 
edge of his prose is essential to the under- 
standing of his verse, and a knowledge 
of his verse is essential to the under- 
standing of his prose. In most studies of 
Kipling that I have read the writers seem 
to me to have treated the verse as sec- 
ondary, and in so doing to have evaded 
the question — which is, nevertheless, a 
question that everyone asks — whether 
Kipling's verse really is poetry; and, if 
not, what it is. 

The starting point for Kipling's verse 
is the motive of the ballad-maker; and 
the modern ballad is a type of verse for 
the appreciation of which we are not 
provided with the proper critical tools. 
We are therefore inclined to dismiss the 
poems, by reference to poetic criteria 



which do not apply. It must therefore 
be our task to understand the type to 
which they belong before attempting to 
value them: we must consider what 
Kipling was trying to do and what he 
was not trying to do. 

The task is the opposite of that with 
which we are ordinarily faced when at- 
tempting to defend contemporary verse. 
We expect to have to defend a poet 
against the charge of obscurity; we have 
to defend Kipling against the charge of 
excessive lucidity. We expect a poet to 
be reproached for a lack of respect for 
the intelligence of the common man, 
or even for deliberately flouting the in- 
telligence of the common man; we have 
to defend Kipling against the charge of 
being a "journalist" appealing only to 
the commonest collective emotions. We 
expect a poet to be ridiculed because 
his verse does not appear to scan; we 
must defend Kipling against the charge 
of writing jingles. In short, people are 
exasperated by poetry which they do not 
understand, and contemptuous of poetry 
which they understand without effort, 
just as an audience is offended by a 
speaker who talks over its head and by a 
speaker whom it suspects of talking down 
to it. 

A further obstacle to the appreciation 
of many of Kipling's poems is their 
topicality, their occasional character, 
and their political associations. People 
are often inclined to disparage poetry 
which appears to have no bearing on the 
situation of to-day; but they are always 
inclined to ignore that which appears to 



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HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



bear only on the situation of yesterday. 
A political association may help to give 
poetry immediate attention; it is in spite 
of this association that the poetry will be 
read, if it is read, to-morrow. Poetry is 
condemned as "political" when we dis- 
agree with the politics; and the majority 
of readers do not want either imperialism 
or socialism in verse. But the question 
is not what is ephemeral, but what is 
permanent; a poet who appears to be 
wholly out of touch with his age may 
still have something very important to 
say to it, and a poet who has treated 
problems of his time will not necessarily 
go out of date. 

II 

There have been many writers of verse 
who have not aimed at writing poetry; 
with the exception of a few writers of 
humorous verse, they are mostly quickly 
forgotten. The difference is that they 
never did write poetry. Kipling does 
write poetry, but that is not what he is 
setting out to do. It is this peculiarity 
of intention that I have in mind in calling 
Kipling a "ballad-writer." 

What is unusual about Kipling's bal- 
lads is his singleness of intention in at- 
tempting to convey no more to the 
simpleminded than can be taken in on 
one reading or hearing. They are best 
when read aloud, and the ear requires 
no training to follow them easily. With 
this simplicity of purpose goes a consum- 
mate gift of word, phrase, and rhythm. 
There is no poet who is less open to the 
charge of repeating himself. In the 
ballad the stanza must not be too long 
and the rhyme scheme must not be too 
complicated; the stanza must be im- 
mediately apprehensible as a whole; a 
refrain can help to insist upon the iden- 
tity within which a limited range of 
variation is possible. The variety of 
form which Kipling manages to devise 
for his ballads is remarkable: each is 
distinct, and perfectly fitted to the con- 
tent and the mood which the poem has 
to convey. Nor is the versification too 
regular: there is the monotonous beat 



only when the monotonous is what is 
required; and the irregularities of scan- 
sion have a wide scope. One of the most 
interesting exercises in the combination 
of heavy beat and variation of pace is 
found in "Danny Deever," a poem which 
is technically (as well as in content) re- 
markable. The regular recurrence of 
the same end-words, which gain im- 
mensely by imperfect rhyme ("parade" 
and "said") gives the feeling of marching 
feet and the movement of men in dis- 
ciplined formation — in a unity of move- 
ment which enhances the horror of the 
occasion and the sickness which seizes 
the men as individuals; and the slightly 
quickened pace of the final lines marks 
the change in movement and in music. 
There is no single word or phrase which 
calls too much attention to itself, or 
which is not there for the sake of the 
total effect; so that when the climax 
comes — 

"What's that that whimpers over'ead?" said 

Files-on-Parade. 
"It's Danny's soul that's passin' now," the 

Colour-Sergeant said. 

(the word "whimper" being exactly 
right) the atmosphere has been prepared 
for a complete suspension of disbelief. 

If I call particular attention to "Danny 
Deever" as a barrack-room ballad which 
somehow attains the intensity of poetry, 
it is not with the purpose of isolating it 
from the other ballads of the same type, 
but with the reminder that with Kipling 
you cannot draw a line beyond which 
some of the verse becomes "poetry"; 
and that the poetry, when it comes, owes 
the gravity of its impact to being some- 
thing over and above the bargain, some- 
thing more than the writer undertook to 
give you; and that the matter is never 
simply a pretext, an occasion for poetry. 

We sometimes speak as if the writer 
who is most consciously and painstak- 
ingly the "craftsman" were the most 
remote from the interests of the ordinary 
reader, and as if the popular writer were 
the artless writer. But no writer has 
ever cared more for the craft of words 
than Kipling — a passion which gives him 



IN PRAISE OF KIPLING'S VERSE 



151 



a prodigious respect for the artist of any 
art, and the craftsman of any craft. The 
problems of the literary artist constantly 
recur in his stories: in "Wireless," for 
instance, where the poor consumptive 
chemist's assistant is for a night identified 
with Keats at the moment of writing 
"The Eve of St. Agnes"; in "The Finest 
Story in the World." where Kipling takes 
the trouble to provide a very good poem 
in rather free verse (the "Song of the 
Galley Slaves") and a very bad poem in 
regular verse, to illustrate the difference 
between the poem which forces its way 
into the consciousness of the poet and the 
poem which the writer himself forces. 

The difference between the craft and 
the art of poetry is of course as difficult 
to determine as the difference between 
poetry and balladry. It will not help us 
to decide the place of Kipling in poetry; 
we can only say that Kipling's craftsman- 
ship is more reliable than that of som.e 
greater poets, and that there is hardly 
any poem, even in the collected w^orks, 
in which he fails to do what he has set 
out to do. The great poet's craft may 
sometimes fail him; but at his greatest 
moments he is doing what Kipling is 
usually doing on a lower plane — wTiting 
transparendy, so that our attention is 
directed to the object and not to the 
medium. Such a result is not attained 
simply by absence of decoration — for 
even the absence of decoration may err 
in calling attention to itself — but by 
never using decoration for its own sake, 
though, again, the apparently super- 
fluous may be what is really important. 
Now one of the problems which arise 
concerning Kipling is related to that 
skill of craftsmanship which seems to 
enable him to pass from form to form, 
though always in an identifiable idiom, 
and from subject to subject, so that we 
are aware of no inner compulsion to 
wTite about this rather than that — a 
versatility which may make us suspect 
him of being no more than a performer. 
We expect to feel with a great writer 
that he had to write about the subject he 
took and in that way. With no writer 



of equal eminence to Kipling is this 
inner compulsion, this unity in variety 
more difficult to discern. 

I pass from the earlier ballads to men- 
tion a second category of Kipling's verse: 
those poems which arise out of, or com- 
ment upon topical events. Some of 
these, such as "The Truce of the Bear," 
in the form of an apologue, do not aim 
very high. But to be able to write good 
verse to occasion is a very rare gift 
indeed: Kipling had the gift and he took 
the obligation to employ it very seriously. 
Of this type of poem I should put "Ge- 
hazi" — a poem inspired by the Marconi 
scandals — very high, as a passionate 
invective rising to real eloquence (and a 
poem which illustrates, incidentally, the 
important influence of Biblical imagery 
and the Authorized Version language 
upon his writing). And the gift for 
occasional verse is allied to the gift for 
two other kinds of verse in which Kipling 
excelled: the epigram and the hymn. 
Good epigrams in English are very few, 
and the great hymn writer is very rare. 
Both are extremely objective types of 
verse; they can and should be charged 
with intense feeling, but it must be a 
feeling that can be completely shared. 
They are possible to a writer so imper- 
sonal as Kipling: and I should like the 
reader to look attentively at the "Epi- 
taphs of the War." I call Kipling a 
great hymn WTiter on the strength of 
"Recessional." It is a poem almost too 
well known to need to have the reader's 
attention called to it, except to point out 
that it is one of the poems in which some- 
thing breaks through from a deeper level 
than that of the mind of the conscious 
observer of political and social affairs — 
something which has the true prophetic 
inspiration. 

The verse of the later period shows an 
even greater diversity than the early 
poems. The word "experimentation" 
may be applied, and honorably applied, 
to the work of many poets w^ho develop 
and change in maturity. As a man 
grows older he may turn to new subject 
matter, or he may treat the same ma- 



r- . , — , I 



n 1 IRRARY 



152 



HARPER^S MAGAZINE 



:.'.'.:. 7 1 ~ -rrer:: '. :r-i a^_ ..\\r:.^. ::r.^ :r.:~^ ina story an:: i:i i ~:^" :i a 

1 :r^:^': "er. :~ :r.^ ii~t :r.i _ r.e ~\::r. i "^ 7 c-er necessity ^sji irii: ~v:r' 

:.3rp: —; r r.zz^w^z V i :.3-rr :: ^;r: :: .'VfT]. I kiHD^v c: zc r::^r :: 

:: :..:'-" : :mrT: : :r. .e :r^^e 5u::i rr^i 1:5 for whom poetij seem^ 

^ :~7: "7- 7: I r :: :"i7 .ti :; r-z.vi :: r.i t :rr- r:::rr pordy an instruiDeiit. 

:-::::: :r : "t :t ::r r^: t:;. :: ::^7 Mi: :: s art ::i ^rested in tfie form for 

wish to sir LTid astonish, but by the its ownsake — not ap ar: fr: n -Jie content, 

cxmipakioii : r.r.i L-. ^ rr-. -r r:^~ s_5 but becanse we aim : - r r something 

in his eariie-: : r : :r .: : : rr. ::: : rrs which shall first of al :, "ng which 

ever iie de t-:;~r': :; .^i :r. r.r ri.-. as in coosequence will have :r.r : liability 

a i:e: r: ::- r:. 1:: mi: :: ' :: exiiting, within a :!~i ri nrr- a 

K :: -r r.r r:" 1 7 :-"Tr :r: ::' leraWe variety c: :t ::::iir: ^::n 

n:: seen c: :e : i\ - r.-:rr: 1:7: irfe rem readers. For Kipling the poem 



Ir. 



ls:. tor some 

lay begin to 

of musical 



rnv 



•'^R- 



^=Col^ 



:: ::\e "ei'ing. in a r:e: 
ijrecc to "„ie :n:elligence 

_S COnV^V— " • — -- - -«a<~ " . ^- ri-. 



:r"/. has its da-?ers 



c: a 






1 ilav erf" enr: 



and we pect to de.r 



ei" 



7 ' is not only seri- 

He is completely 

5 .: zay completely 

oimself in verse or prose; 



n not implying any inferiority 
■p. but rath— 1 I'fTerent 
5rom that •..::. .ve ex- 
-7 Jie structure of p)oetry. 
If e 3 re :.e : r. i ::* critic who is ac- 
:\:5.:nea :: ::r,:.ier i : ems solely by the 
standards of the " Art" we may 

tend to Hi^mi^ Kipliiig i verse by stand- 
ards which are not meant to apply. If. on 
the other hand, we are the biographical 



IN PRAISE OF KIlM.INCrS VERSI-: 



153 



critic, interested primarily in (he work as 
a revelation of the man, Kiphnj^^ is the 
most elusive of subjects: no writer has 
been more reticent about himself or given 
fewer openings for curiosity, for personal 
adoration or disHkc. 

The purely hypothetical reader who 
came upon this fssay with no previous 
acquaintance with Kipling's verse might 
perhaps imagine that I had been briefed 
in the cause of some hopelessly second- 
rate writer, and that I was trying, as an 
exhibition of my ingenuity as an advo- 
cate, to secure some small remission of 
the penalty of oblivion. One might ex- 
pect that a poet who appeared to com- 
municate so little of his private ecstasies 
and despairs would be dull; one might 
expect that a poet who had given so 
much of his time to the service of the 
political imagination would be ephem- 
eral; one might expect that a poet so con- 
stantly occupied with the appearances of 
things would be shallow. We know 
that he is not dull because we have all, at 
one time or another, by one poem or an- 
other, been thrilled; we know that he is 
not ephemeral because we remember so 
much of what we have read. As for shal- 
lowness, that is a charge which can be 
brought only by those who have continued 
to read him only with a boyish interest. 

in - 

He is so different from other poets that 
the lazy critic is tempted merely to assert 
that he is not a poet at all and leave it at 
that. The changes in his poetry, while 
they cannot be explained by any usual 
scheme of poetic development, can to 
some extent be explained by changes in 
his outward circumstances. I say "to 
some extent," because Kipling, appar- 
ently merely the reflection of the world 
about him, is the most inscrutable of au- 
thors. An immense gift for using words, 
an amazing curiosity and power of ob- 
servation with his mind and with all his 
senses, the mask of the entertainer, and 
beyond that a queer gift of second sight, of 
transmitting messages from elsewhere, a 



gift so di.scfjnccrting when wc arc made 
aware of it that thenceforth wc arc never 
sure when it is not present— all this makes 
Kipling a writer impossible wholly to un- 
derstand and quite impossible to belittle. 

Certainly an exceptional sensitiveness 
to environment is the first characteristic 
of Kipling that we notice; so that on one 
level we may trace his course by ex- 
ternal circumstances. What life would 
have made of such a man had his birth, 
growth, maturity, and age all taken place 
in one set of surroundings is beyond spec- 
ulation; as life directed, the result was to 
give him a peculiar detachment and re- 
moteness from all environment, a uni- 
versal foreignness which is the reverse side 
of his strong feeling for India, for the Em- 
pire, for England, and for Sussex, a re- 
moteness as of an alarmingly intelligent 
visitor from another planet. He remains 
somehow alien and aloof from all with 
which he identifies himself. 

To have been born in India and to 
have spent the first remembered years 
there is a circumstance of capital impor- 
tance for a child of such impressiona- 
bility. To have spent the years from 
seventeen to twenty-four earning his liv- 
ing there is for a very precocious and ob- 
servant young man an important experi- 
ence also. The result is, it seems to me, 
that there are two strata in Kipling's 
appreciation of India, the stratum of the 
child and that of the young man. It was 
the latter who observed the British in 
India and wrote the rather cocky and 
acid tales of Delhi and Simla, but it was 
the former who loved the country and its 
people. In his Indian tales it is on the 
whole the Indian characters who have 
the greater reality, because they are 
treated with the understanding of love. 
One is not very loving between seven- 
teen and twenty-four. But it is Purun 
Bhagat, it is the four great Indian charac- 
ters in Kim who are real: the Lama, 
Mahbub Ali, Hurree Chunder Mooker- 
jee, and the wealthy widow from the 
north. As for the Britons, those with 
whom he is most sympathetic are those 
who have suffered or fallen — Mcintosh 



154 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



Jellaludin has learned more than Strick- 
land. 

Kipling is of India in a different way 
from any other Englishman who has writ- 
ten, and in a different way from that of 
any particular Indian, who has a race, a 
creed, a local habitation, and, if a Hindu, 
a caste. He might almost be called the 
first citizen of India. And his relation 
to India determines that about him 
which is the most important thing about 
a man, his religious attitude. It is an 
attitude of comprehensive tolerance. He 
is not an unbeliever — on the contrary, he 
can accept all faiths: that of the Moslem, 
that of the Hindu, that of the Buddhist, 
Parsee, or Jain, even (through the his- 
torical imagination) that of Mithra; if 
his understanding of Christianity is less 
favorable, that is due to his Anglo-Saxon 
background — and no doubt he saw 
enough in India of clergy such as Mr. 
Bennett in Kim. 

To explain Kipling's feeling for the 
Empire, and his later feeling for Sussex, 
as merely the nostalgia of a man without 
a country, as the need for support felt by 
the man who does not belong, would be a 
mistake which would prevent us from un- 
derstanding Kipling's peculiar contribu- 
tion. To explain away his patriotic feel- 
ing in this way is only necessary for those 
who consider that such feeling is not a 
proper theme for verse. But if there is a 
prejudice against patriotic verse, there is 
a still stronger prejudice against imperial 
patriotism in verse. For too many peo- 
ple an Empire has become something to 
apologize for, on the ground that it hap- 
pened by accident, and with the addition 
that it is a temporary affair anyway and 
will eventually be absorbed into some 
universal world association; and patri- 
otism itself is expected to be inarticulate. 
But we must accustom ourselves to rec- 
ognizing that for Kipling the Empire was 
not merely an idea, a good idea or a bad 
one; it was something the reality of which 
he felt. And in his expression of his feel- 
ing he was certainly not aiming at flat- 
tery of national, racial, or imperial van- 
ity, or attempting to propagate a political 



program; he was aiming to communicate 
the awareness of grandeur, certainly, but 
it was much more an awareness of re- 
sponsibility. 

Kipling certainly thought of verse as 
well as prose as a medium for a public 
purpose; if we are to pass judgment upon 
his purpose we must try to set ourselves 
in the historical situations in which his 
various work was written; and whether 
our prejudice be favorable or antagonis- 
tic, we must not look at his observations 
of one historical situation from the point 
of view of a later period. Also we must 
consider his work as a whole, and the 
earlier years in the light of the later, and 
not exaggerate the importance of par- 
ticular pieces or phrases which we may 
not like. Even these may be misin- 
terpreted. Mr. Edward Shanks, who 
has written the best book on Kipling 
that I have read (and whose chapter 
on "The Prophet of Empire" resumes 
Kipling's political views admirably), says 
of the poem called "Loot" (a soldier 
ballad describing the ways of extorting 
hidden treasure from natives): "this is 
wholly detestable, and it makes the com- 
mentator on Kipling turn red when he 
endeavors to explain it." This is to read 
an attitude into the poem which I had 
never suspected. I do not believe that 
in this poem he was commending the 
rapacity and greed of such irregularities, 
or condoning rapine. If we think this 
we must also presume that "The Ladies" 
was written to glorify miscellaneous mis- 
cegenation on the part of professional 
soldiers quartered in foreign lands. Kip- 
ling, at the period to which these poems 
belong, undoubtedly felt that the pro- 
fessional ranker and his officers too were 
unappreciated by their peaceful country- 
men at home, and that in the treatment 
of the soldier and the discharged soldier 
there was often less than social justice; 
but his concern was to make the soldier 
known, not to idealize him. He was 
exasperated by sentimentalism as well as 
by depreciation or neglect — and either 
attitude is liable to evoke the other. 

I have said that in Kipling as a poet 



IN PRAlSr: Ol" Kii'LINCJ'S Vl.RSK 



155 



there is no developinenl, hut imilalioii; 
and (liat for the clcvclopiiK^nt wc must 
look to chani^c's in [\\r. environment and 
in the man himself. 'I'he first period is 
that of India; the seeond that of travel 
and of residenee in America; the third is 
that of his settlement in Sussex. These 
divisions arc obvious; what is not so ob- 
vious is the development of his view of 
empire, a view which expands and con- 
tracts at the same time. He had always 
been far from uncritical of the defects 
and wrongs of the British Empire, but 
held^a firm belief in what it should and 
might be. In his later phase England, 
and a particular corner of England, be- 
comes the center of his vision. He is 
more concerned with the problem of the 
soundness of the core of empire; this core 
is something older, more natural, and 
more permanent. But at the same time 
his vision takes a larger view, and he sees 
the Roman Empire and the place of Eng- 
land in it. The vision is almost that of 
an idea of empire laid up in heaven. 
And with all his geographical and his- 
torical imagination, no one was farther 
than he from interest in men in the mass, 
or the manipulation of men in the mass; 
his symbol was always a particular in- 
dividual. The symbol had been, at one 
time, such men as Mulvaney or Strick- 
land; it became Parnesius and Hobden. 
Technical mechanics do not lose their 
charm for him; wireless 'and aviation 
succeed steam, and in one of his most 
other-worldly stories — "They" — a con- 
siderable part is played by an early and 
not very reliable model of motor car; but 
Parnesius and Hobden are more impor- 
tant than the machines. One is the de- 
fender of a civilization (of a civilization, 
not of civilization in the abstract) against 
barbarism; the other represents the essen- 
tial contact of the civilization with the 
soil. 

It may well be unfortunate for a man's 
reputation that he should have great 
success early in life, with one work or 
with one type of work; for then his early 
work is what he is remembered by, and 
people (critics, sometimes, most of all) 



do not l)oih(T t(; revise tiieir opinions in 
accordance with his later work. With 
Kipling, furthermore, a prejudice against 
the content may ecjinbinc! with a lack of 
understanding of the form t(j produce 
an inconsistent condenmation. On the 
ground of content, Ik* is called a Tcjry; 
and (jn the gr(jund (jf style, he is called a 
journalist. Neither of these terms, to be 
sure, need be held in anything but honor; 
but the former has come to acquire 
popular odium by a vulgar identification 
with a nastier name: to many people a 
critical attitude towards "democracy" 
has come to imply a friendly attitude 
towards fascism — which, from a truly 
Tory point of view, is merely the extreme 
degradation of democracy. Similarly 
the term "journalist," when applied to 
anyone not on the staff of a newspaper, 
has come to connote truckling to the 
popular taste of the moment. Kipling 
was not even a Tory, in the sense of one 
giving unquestioning loyalty to a political 
party; he can be called a Tory in a sense 
in which only a handful of writers to- 
gether with a number of mostly inarticu- 
late, obscure, and uninfluential people are 
ever Tories in one generation. And as 
for being a journalist (in the sense men- 
tioned above) we must keep in mind that 
the causes he espoused were not popular 
causes when he voiced them; that he did 
not aim to idealize either border warfare 
or the professional soldier; that his re- 
flections on the Boer War are more 
admonitory than laudatory. 

It may be proposed that, as he dwelt 
upon the glory of empire, in so doing he 
helped to conceal its more seamy side: the 
commercialism, exploitation, and neglect. 
No attentive reader of Kipling can main- 
tain, however, that he was unaware of the 
faults of British rule; it is simply that he 
believed the British Empire to be a good 
thing, that he wished to set before his 
readers an ideal of what it should be, but 
was acutely aware of the difficulty of even 
approximating to this idea, and of the per- 
petual danger of falling away even from 
such a standard as might be attained. 
I cannot find any justification for the 



156 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



charge that he held a doctrine of race 
superiority. He beheved^that the British 
have a greater aptitude for ruUng than 
other people, and thai they include a 
greater number of kindly, incorruptible, 
and unself-seeking men capable of ad- 
ministration; and he knew that skep- 
ticism in this matter is less likely to lead 
to greater magnanimity than it is to lead 
to a relaxation of the sense of responsibil- 
ity. But he cannot be accused of holding 
that any Briton, simply because of his 
British race, is necessarily in any way the 
superior, or even the equal, of an in- 
dividual of another race. The types of 
men which he admires are unlimited by 
any prejudice; his maturest work on 
India, and his greatest book, is Kim. 

The notion of Kipling as a popular 
entertainer is due to the fact that his 
works have been popular and that ihey 
entertain. However, it is permitted to 
express popular views of the moment in 
an unpopular style; it is not approved 
when a man holds unpopular views and 
expresses them in something very reada- 
ble. I do not wish to argue longer over 
Kipling's early "imperialism" because 
there is need to speak of the development 
of his views. It should be said at this 
point, before passing on, that Kipling is 
not a doctrinaire or a man with a pro- 
gram. His opinions are not to be con- 
sidered as the antithesis of those of Mr. 
H. G. Wells. Mr. Wells's imagination 
is one thing and his political opinions 
another; the latter change but do not 
mature. But Kipling did not, in the 
sense in which that activity can be 
ascribed to Mr. \ Veils, think; his aim, 
and his gift, is to make people see (for 
the first condition of right thought is 
right sensation, the first condition of 
understanding a foreign country is to 
smell it, as you smell India in Kim). If 
you have seen and felt truly, then if God 
has given you the power you may be able 
to think rightly. 

The simplest summary of the change 
in Kipling in his middle years is the 
development of the imperial imagination 
into the historical imagination. To 



this development his setding in Sussex 
must have contributed to no small de- 
gree; for he had both the humiliu' to 
subdue himself to his surroundings and 
the freshness of vision of the stranger. 
My references here will be to stories 
rather than to poems: that is because the 
later unit is a poem and a story together 
— or a story and iwo poems — combining 
to make a form which no one has used 
in the same way and in which no one is 
ever likely to excel him. 

The historical imagination may give 
us an awful awareness of the extent of 
time or it may give us a dizzy sense of the 
nearness of the past. It may do both. 
Kipling, especially in Puck oj Book's Hill 
and Reuards and Fairies, aims I think to 
give at once a sense of the antiquit\' of 
England, of the number of generations 
and peoples who have labored the soil 
and in turn been buried beneath it, and 
of the contemporaneity of the past. 
Having previously exhibited an imagina- 
tive grasp of space, and England in it, he 
now proceeds to a similar achievement in 
time. The tales of English history need 
to be considered in relation to the later 
stories of contemporary Sussex, such as 
'•'An Habitation Enforced," "My Son's 
Wife," and "The Wish House," together 
with "They" in one aspect of this curious 
story. Kipling's awareness and love 
of Sussex are very different from the 
feeling of any other "'regional" writer 
of comparable fame, such as Thomas 
Hardy. To think of Kipling as a writ- 
er who could turn Ills hand to any 
subject, who wrote of Sussex because he 
had exhausted his foreign and imperial 
material, or had satiated the public 
demand for it, or merely because he was 
a chameleon who took his color from 
environment, would be to miss the mark 
completely; this later work is the con- 
tinuation and consummation of the 
earlier. He brings to his work the 
freshness of a mind and a sensibiliry 
developed and matured in quite different 
environment; he is discovering and re- 
claiming a lost inheritance. What is 
most important in these stories is Kip- 



IN PRAlSi: OF KIIM.ING'S VERSK 



157 



ling's vision of the people of the soil, ll 
is not a Christian vision, but it is at least 
a pagan vision — a contradiction of the 
materialistic view; it is the insight into a 
harmony with nature which must be 
re-established if the truly Christian im- 
agination is to be recovered by Chris- 
tians. What he is trying to convey is, 
again, not a program of agrarian reform, 
but a point of view unintelligible to the 
industrialized mind. 

We have gone a long way, at this 
stage, from the mere story teller, a long 
way even from the man who felt it his 
duty to try to make certain things plain 
to his countrymen who would not see 
them. He could hardly have thought 
that many people in his own time or at 
any time would take the trouble to under- 
stand the parables, or even to appreciate 
the precision of observation, the cal- 
culating pains in selecting and combining 
elements, the choice of word and phrase 
that were spent in their elaboration. 
He must have known that his own fame 
would get in the way, his reputation as a 
story teller, his reputation as a "Tory 
journalist," his reputation as a facile 
writer who could dash off something 
about what happened yesterday, his 
reputation even as a writer of books for 
children which children liked to read. 

IV 

I return to the beginning. The late 
poems, like the late stories with which 
they belong, are sometimes more obscure, 
because they are trying to express some- 
thing more difficult than the early poems. 
They are the poems of a wiser and more 
mature writer. But they do not show 
any movement from "verse" to "poetry"; 
they are just as instrumental as the early 
work, but now instruments for a matured 
purpose. Kipling could handle, from 
the beginning to the end, a considerable 
variety of meters and stanza forms with 
perfect competence; he introduces re- 
markable variations of his own; but as a 
poet he does not invent. He is not one 
of those writers of whom one can say that 
the Jorm of English poetry will always be 



different fn;in what it would have been if 
they had n(;t wriltrn. What fundamen- 
tally (lifrerciitiatcs his "verse" from 
"p(jctry" is the subfjrdination of musical 
interest. Many of the poems give, in- 
deed, judged by the ear, an imprcssifjn of 
the mood, some are distinctly ono- 
matopoeic; but there is a harmonics of 
poetry which is not simply beyond their 
range - it would interfere with the in- 
tention. It is possible to argue excep- 
tions; but I am speaking of his work as a 
whole, and I maintain that without 
understanding the purpose which ani- 
mates his verse as a whole one is not pre- 
pared to understand the exceptions. 

I make no apology for having used the 
terms "verse" and "poetry" in a loose 
way; so that while I speak of Kipling's 
work as verse and not as poetry, I am 
still able to speak of individual composi- 
tions as poems, and also to maintain that 
there is "poetry" in the "verse." Where 
terminology is loose, where we have not 
the vocabulary for distinctions which we 
feel, our only precision is found in being 
aware of the imperfection of our tools 
and of the different senses in which we 
are using the same words. It should be 
clear that when I contrast "verse" with 
"poetry" I am not, in this context, imply- 
ing a value judgment. I do not mean 
here by verse the work of a man who 
would write poetry if he could; I mean 
by it something which does what "po- 
etry" could not do. The difference 
which would turn Kipling's verse into 
poetry does not represent a failure or 
deficiency; he knew perfectly well what 
he was doing; and from his point of view 
more "poetry" would interfere with his 
purpose. And I make the claim that in 
speaking of Kipling we are entitled to 
say ''great verse." I would suggest also 
that we too easily assume that what is 
most valuable is also most rare, and vice 
versa. I can think of a number of poets 
who have written great poetry, only of a 
very few whom I should call great verse 
writers. And unless I am mistaken, 
Kipling's position in this class is not only 
high but unique. 




ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF A 
LONDON BOMBING 

REMEMBERED IN NEW YORK 
BY R. J. CRUIKSHANK 



I DO not ask you to love them, 
I do not ask you to speak a word for them; 
I ask you oj your grace to know them. 

These are the faces I see when I cannot sleep 

In the hours of the stone pillow and the unquiet glimmer on the wall, 

At the shank end of the night in your high city. 

Here are lights and round fruits and clear faces, 

And there's a singing all day long in the shrewd air, 

Your towers hum up the sky like torches; 

But I am thinking at night of white faces 

And remembering another darkness and rain falling. 

What is this crowd in the street? 

In the long, thin street under the rain, 

Where strangers meet 

Never to meet again? 

They are burying our unknown dead. 

The dead from the last raid. 

The dead without a name. 

The anonymous dust from the rubble, 

The unrecognized bones from the flame, 

Ashes to ashes again, 

Out of the pifs shame 

Where the fire still flashes. 

They are passing by, passing by. 

These headless citizens of our city. 

Past all descrying by a lover's eye. 

Past all compassion of the hands, the lips. 

Past reach of loving-kindness and of pity. 

These poor, dishonored dead 

Who died as I this night may die: 

Our dead whose names are known to God alone. 



ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF A LONDON iU;MiiING 159 

Not the orijlatnme imperial 

Flaring out in the Jinal gale. 

Bloodying the sky with its unstanched vermilion, 

Its droppings oj white gold, its fardels of purple, 

Not the bleak whine oj the bugles on Jour o'clock ramparts. 

Not the mouth-fdling swoops oj the winged victory. 

Not the desperations throttled amid sand and plucked bones, 

Not pride, nor perjormance, nor the choric thunders over the seas, 

We celebrate, but the gray glory oj the common man. 

For the unaureoled obscure, 

For the Gods without pedestals. 

For the Saints without jestivals, 

For the Virgins without coronals, 

For the Martyrs oj brick lanes. 

For the holy babes without shrines, 

For the legend oj the mothers and the sons, 

Mingled in death as once at birth, 

For the transfiguration oj Artie Smith, 

For the majesty oj poor men, 

For the unknown unjorgotten. 

For the jaithjul and the humble and the lost 

Pray, men and angels, pray. 

Sing the gray glory oj the common man. 

He spends his candle-end oj being 

Within the chasm oj two timeless nights, 

He has enough to do to get him bread, 

A house against the rain, a shirt jor his back, 

A woman to love, a child to bear his hopes, 

With scant time lejt to brood on what he is 

Or what ifs all about. 

His mother when she bore him did not think 

He'd wear the iron crown oj tragic kings; 

In those days Gethsemane and the Crucijixion 

Were but the pictures in an ancient book. 

The jiame still smolders in the pit. 

The smoke jrom Hell drijts down your avenue. 

And in that jiame and in that smoke I see, 

Not what this man was, or is, but what this man will be. 





SEEING IN A BLACKOUT 



BY SELIG HECHT 



So MANY of our cities have already had 
I blackouts, and so many others are 
preparing for them, that people have be- 
gun to wonder about blackout vision and 
to take seriously the information drifting 
in from England about night vision and 
night blindness. Is there really a special 
kind of vision operating during a black- 
out? How well can we see with it? Is 
it true that a match is visible for miles? 
If so, what kind of light can be used for 
getting about? What is night blindness, 
and what have carrots and vitamin A to 
do with it? Before too many erroneous 
notions gain credence it may be well to 
answer such questions, explaining just 
what is known about night vision and 
what to do about it. 

Night vision is different from daylight 
vision, and the two are so dissimilar in 
some respects as to constitute totally 
different visual experiences. With day- 
light vision we read books, judge colors, 
look at paintings, and recognize our 
friends. With night vision none of these 
activities is possible. We cannot read, 
we cannot differentiate colors, and we 
cannot see details with it. But we can 
see in almost total darkness with it, and 
therein lies its virtue during a blackout. 

We need these two kinds of vision be- 
cause of the tremendous range of illumi- 
nations to which we are exposed during 
a twenty-four-hour day. At one extreme 
is the searing brightness of a sunlit side- 
walk on a summer day, while at the other 
is the faint shimmer of a white shirt 
barely visible in the woods at night. 
The dividing line is full moonlight. 



Above this illumination we use day vi- 
sion; below it, night vision. Above it we 
are like chickens, lizards, and turtles — 
essentially daylight animals. Below it 
we see like bats, owls, and mice, which 
are essentially night animals. 

City dwellers are rarely called upon to 
use their night vision. Modern lighting 
practice has seen to that. A city per- 
son's night vision comes into play only 
when he wakes up in the middle of the 
night or when he lies in a darkened room 
for some time before falling asleep. 
Then he finds the objects in the room 
slowly becoming visible, the same objects 
which had completely disappeared when 
he first turned off the reading light in 
preparation for sleep. Country people, 
however, know dim vision very well. 
They use it in walking on the roads, in 
crossing fields, in hunting porcupines, 
and in getting about on dark nights. 

We cannot use this night vision sud- 
denly; we have to work down to it 
gradually. Take the experience of going 
directly from daylight into a darkened 
theater or movie. Everything is in a fog 
of invisibility as you stumble behind the 
usher. Soon, however, the fog begins to 
clear; you become "accustomed to the 
dark." After half an hour the house 
looks well illuminated even though you 
know that the illumination has not 
changed. It is not the lights but your 
eyes which have altered during this half 
hour. They have become adapted to 
the dark, and you are now thousands of 
times more sensitive to light than you 
were at the beginning. 



SKLINU IN A liLACKOUl 



161 



It is almost impossible to cxap^^rratc 
the sensitivity of our (!yes after they liave 
l)een dark-adapted for half an hour, be- 
cause by that time we need only a fan- 
tastically small amount of lififht to see by. 
For example, with dark-adapted eyes we 
could see a candle twelve miles away 
even if it were flashed on for only one- 
thousandth of a second. If the candle 
were exposed for a full second or longer 
it could be two hundred and fifty miles 
away and still supply the eye with 
enough light to be seen clearly with our 
night vision. The flare of a match is 
fully as bright as a candle, and a dark- 
adapted aviator would not have the 
slightest difficulty in seeing it twenty-five 
miles away on a clear night. Under 
ordinary conditions it is neither the sen- 
sitivity of the eye nor the distance which 
limits the visibility of lights; it is the 
curvature of the earth and the haze, 
mist, and fog which obscure them. 

Obviously we must exercise the great- 
est care during a blackout not to show the 
slightest amount of light. To ignite a 
match in a blacked-out street is to expose 
a beacon light to the nearest aviator. 
He is sure to be dark-adapted, and can 
easily see much less light than a match. 

Naturally the English have known 
this. The pilots of pursuit and fighter 
planes, who go out to meet the enemy at 
night, are thoroughly- dark-adapted. 
They must sit for at least half an hour in 
practical darkness before taking to their 
planes. An enemy plane carries no 
light, and the pilots need the highest 
sensitivity to see the bare silhouette of the 
enemy plane against the sky, or the faint 
blue flash of its exhaust. 



II 

Our capacities for day vision and night 
vision are not evenly distributed in the 
eye. The arrangements for daylight 
vision are most concentrated in the very 
center, so that when we look at some- 
thing directly we use only day vision. 
This is fine for most purposes, but as a 
result the center of vision is practically 



blind in very dim illumination. Under 
such { onditions we cannot see anythinn 
at all if we look al it directly. 

On the other hand, the margin of our 
vision is arranged particularly for night 
seeing. We do poorly with this part of 
the eye during the day; for example, no 
one would think of reading a book except 
by looking at it directly. But the visual 
margin comes into its own in dim light. 
It can undergo the greatest dark adapta- 
tion and possesses the maximum sensitiv- 
ity to light. It therefore forms our main- 
stay during a blackout. 

Astronomers have long known that the 
best way to see a dim star is not to look at 
it directly but to catch it out of the corner 
of the eye. Anyone can easily verify 
this. The fourth star from the end of the 
handle of the Great Dipper is only just 
bright enough to be seen by daylight 
vision. On a hazy night its brightness is 
decreased, and then it can be seen only 
by night vision. If you look directly at 
this star it disappears, but if you look at 
a nearby star, the Dipper star comes up 
bright and clear. The Pleiades make an 
even more convincing demonstration. 
Look at them directly and you see a small 
number of moderately visible stars. 
Now look at a near-by star and at once 
the Pleiades become brilliant and show^ 
many more stars than before. 

One gathers from this that during a 
blackout it is better to examine things out 
of the corner of the eye. It is important 
to learn to rely on this capacity and to 
use it consciously. It will do no good to 
look directly at what one has just picked 
up with the corner of the eye, because 
what is barely perceptible out of the 
corner of the eye will disappear on direct 
examination. Keep watch with the side 
of your eye, and you will be astonished at 
what you can learn to see with it. This 
is the vision of the hunter and trapper in 
the night woods and can be achieved 
with practice. 

True, the detail which can be recog- 
nized in such out-of-the-corner-of-the-eye 
vision is poor. Form can be judged only 
in a coarse way, and the fine points of an 



162 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



object are lost. The difference between 
peripheral night vision and direct day 
vision is the difference between being just 
barely able to make out the big letter E 
on the oculist's chart and the reading of 
the finest print. This is because night 
vision is specialized for great sensitivity, 
while day vision is specialized for fine 
form and detail recognition. 

In a blackout we must be content 
with crude vision. Directions, therefore, 
should be painted in large, simple letters. 
Arrows should be exaggerated, the tip 
being many times wider than the shaft. 
Contrast should be as great as possible, 
which means that all signs should be in 
black and white. 

The visual world in a blackout is ob- 
viously quite a different place from the 
one we are accustomed to in daylight. 
One thing which makes this difference 
even more marked than poor form vision 
is the absence of color. We see colors 
only with daylight vision. Night vision 
is color blind in the most extreme sense. 

On the south wall of my Vermont 
farmhouse there is a board painted with 
circles of various colors at which the 
children throw darts. On ordinary 
nights it is easy to see the dart board as a 
whole and to make out the circles as 
different in brightness. However, if you 
have not seen the board by daylight, you 
will find it impossible to tell the colors at 
night. Only during full moon is the 
dart board bright enough to be seen by 
day vision, and then you can just make 
out the colors of the circles surrounding 
the bull's-eye. 

You cannot expect to see the colors of 
objects during a blackout. Grass will 
not be green, bricks will not be red, col- 
ored armbands and insignia will not be 
distinguishable unless they are specially 
illuminated for the purpose. 

Color has still another peculiarity 
which is of first-rate importance during a 
blackout. This concerns the relative 
brightness of different colors. All colors 
are not equally bright. For instance, by 
daylight yellow is bright, navy blue is 
dark, and green is in between. With 



night vision these colors possess quite 
different degrees of brightness. 

This difference between day and night 
vision is best shown with red and blue. 
In ordinary daylight it is easy to select a 
red paper and a blue paper which look 
about equally bright. Take these pa- 
pers out into the feeble illumination of a 
blackout and look at them after being 
dark-adapted, and you will be astonished 
at two things. First, the papers will not 
appear colored, and second, the blue will 
be ever so much brighter than the red; 
in fact, the red will be barely visible by 
comparison. 

Exactly the same thing will happen 
with red and blue lights. Match a blue 
light and a red light so that they are 
equally bright. Now put a dense smoke 
glass in front of the two lights. After 
you have become dark-adapted enough 
to see these lights with your off-center 
night vision, you will be startled to ob- 
serve that the blue light is hundreds of 
times brighter than the red. 

This difference is particularly per- 
tinent to one of the major problems of a 
blackout. How can we illuminate ob- 
jects with the dimmest light so that they 
are visible to us but not to our enemies? 
We can do this best with colored light 
provided we choose the right one. 

When an enemy observer in an air- 
plane flying above a blacked-out city 
tries to catch a glimpse of light to tell 
him where he is, he is completely dark- 
adapted and is using his night vision. If 
you, down below, attempt to read a sign 
or negotiate a difficult step you will need 
light. Whatever color you use, it must 
be bright enough to enable you to use 
direct vision, and that means daylight 
vision. If you choose a blue light it 
will appear hundreds of times brighter 
to your indirect night vision than a sim- 
ilarly effective red light would be. It 
will therefore be many hundred times 
more easily visible to the enemy flier. 
The conclusion is obvious. 

By reason of its much greater night 
brightness than red light, blue has a bad 
effect on your own night vision. Com- 



SEEING IN A BLACKOUT 



163 



})Ic(c dark adaptation is not easily ac- 
(juircd; it takes the better part of tialf an 
hour, and it eannot be hurried. How- 
ever, it ean be quiekly lost. ]*'xposure to 
bright light will destroy the adaptation, 
and you will have to wait for your eye to 
go through the course of adaptation 
again. The extent to which dark adap- 
tation is destroyed and the speed of its 
recovery depend on the duration of the 
exposure to the light and on the bright- 
ness of the light as it appears to night vision. 
The higher the brightness and the longer 
the exposure, the longer it takes for com- 
plete recovery. 

Since blue light is so enormously 
brighter to night vision than an equal 
amount of red light, the use of blue light 
for seeing any detail will always expose 
the night-vision system to a tremendously 
greater damaging effect than red light, 
and its fine dark adaptation will be 
destroyed accordingly. You will be 
blinded for a while until you again be- 
come adapted. 

Therefore, on the grounds of both its 
visibility to enemy fliers and its destruc- 
tion of your own hard-won dark adapta- 
tion, blue light is to be avoided. The 
only light to be used during a blackout is 
red light, the redder the better. 

In addition to all this, blue light is the 
worst color to use for details; the purer 
blue it is the worse it is._ Our eyes can- 
not focus very sharply with blue light. 
Print will not appear clear, and the effort 
to read by such light will result in eye 
strain and fatigue. I notice the adver- 
tisements for blackout equipment speak 
of such light as "soft blue light." If soft 
means blurred, then it is an adequate 
description. 

I know that blue light was used in 
London. I know that blue light has 
been recommended here, and I know 
that it is being sold by the shops for use 
during blackouts. Nevertheless it is 
wrong. Blue light is the most dangerous 
color to use during a blackout, while red 
is the safest. The British have finally 
learned this, and so have our Army and 
Navy. 



A final word about seeing in a black- 
out concerns the relati(jn of vitamin A to 
night vision, and [)articular]y to night 
blindness. Night blindness is tlie in- 
ability to see in low illuminations even 
after prolonged dark adaptation. When 
it occurs in groups of people it is because 
they have been deprived for a long time 
of green vegetables and butter. 

Night blindness is cured with vitamin 
A. The reason we need vitamin A is 
that it enters into the formation of a sub- 
stance called visual purple, which is re- 
sponsible for the great sensitivity to light 
of night vision. Persons put on a diet 
completely free of vitamin A fail to form 
their usual quota of visual purple, and 
almost immediately show a drop in their 
sensitivity to light. An individual kept 
on a vitamin A-free diet for a month 
may, after complete dark adaptation, 
require a hundred times more light to see 
by than before the diet. 

Fortunately, very few of us are ever 
subjected to a great restriction of vitamin 
A in the diet. Carrots, squash, all green 
vegetables, butter, and eggs are common 
parts of our national diet, and it is the 
experience of most reliable investigators 
that dietary night blindness is compara- 
tively infrequent in the United States. 
People with abnormal night vision are 
usually so not because of dietary defi- 
ciencies, but because of disease. Dis- 
turbances of the liver and the kidneys are 
often associated with poor night vision. 

Recovery from night blindness caused 
by dietary vitamin A deficiency is slow; 
in most instances recovery is gradual and 
is to be reckoned in weeks and months 
rather than in hours and days. So you 
must not expect that if you eat a carrot 
before a blackout your vision will im- 
prove wonderfully. It will improve, not 
by virtue of the carrot, but because of 
your regular dark adaptation. If you are 
normal — and the chances are one hun- 
dred to one that you are — the addition of 
vast quantities of vitamin A to your diet 
will make very little difference. Let no 
one urge you to take excess vitamin A to 
improve your vision above normal. 



164 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



People with normal night vision are 
not equally sensitive at ^low illumina- 
tions. Individuals may vary by as much 
as one to thirty in the amount of light 
they need to see by. It is like the differ- 
ences which people show in height and 
weight. There are short people and tall 
people, and food adds little to their stat- 
ure because heredity is mainly responsi- 
ble for it. Similarly with vision: some 
people are naturally more sensitive than 
others even if they all eat plenty of 
vitamin A. 

It might perhaps be desirable to make 
a rough sifting of the population to find 
those individuals who have particularly 
good night vision, and those who have 
poor night vision. The good ones might 
serve as spotters or lookouts during black- 
outs. The poor ones, being informed, 
can be more cautious. 



Ill 

As a guide for visual behavior during a 
blackout all this information comes to 
some fairly simple rules. If you learn 
them and realize what they mean in 
terms of night vision you need have no 
fears about a blackout. Visually we are 
equipped with the best and most sensi- 
tive light-detecting instrument in ex- 
istence. All that is required is that we 
know how to use it and that the authori- 
ties set up illuminations suited to it. 

Remember that it takes time to achieve 
the maximum visual sensitivity, and that 
there is no known way in which to speed 
up the process. When you leave a 
brightly illuminated room do not rush 
into the blacked-out night. Go slowly. 
If possible wait in the darkness before 
starting out. Wait at least ten minutes 
after leaving a brightly illuminated 
room; wait longer if you can. 

Once outside do not light a cigarette. 
Never strike a match or use a lighter. 
An aviator miles above you can see 
that light to your and everybody's det- 
riment. 

Learn to use the visual periphery. 
Pay attention to what you can pick up 



out of the corner of your eye. This re- 
quires some practice, but you can be- 
come quite adept at it. 

Color differences disappear at low 
illuminations; in a blackout colors will 
all look like different shades of gray. 
You need at least a moderate illumina- 
tion to tell color differences; and since 
special illumination has to be avoided 
it is useless to set up colors as guides. 

When extra illumination is required 
for signs, direction markers, or passage- 
ways, use only very weak red light. Put 
red cellophane, or red paper, or red glass 
over your flashlight. Ordinary flash- 
lights require two batteries. Save your 
power and use only one battery, but put 
in a metal dummy to make the circuit. 
This will give a weak reddish light to be- 
gin with. 

Watch your diet so that it does not 
fall below normal vitamin A require- 
ments. This is easy, because only small 
amounts are needed. An ordinary help- 
ing of spinach or of carrots is enough for 
a day; butter, broccoli, or practically 
any other green or yellow vegetable will 
do the trick. If you suspect yourself of 
night blindness, have a thorough going- 
over by a physician. If the fault lies in 
your diet it is easily corrected but it 
takes a little time. 

Above all, remember that though your 
eyes are superb instruments, they are del- 
icate, and form the main gateway to your 
nervous system. Take care of them. 

Do not try to read by dim light or by 
"soft blue" light. Do not read even by 
red light unless you absolutely have to, 
and then only for a very short while. 
Book print needs good illumination and 
so does sewing. The English have 
found that with proper blackout curtains 
they can keep their indoors normally 
illuminated. This is a simple procedure, 
and solves the problem much better than 
sitting huddled close to a dim light with 
its resulting eye strain and general ir- 
ritability. Besides, good interior light- 
ing is cheerful, and before this war is 
over we will need every means for keep- 
ing in good cheer. 




BETWEEN HITLER AND MUSSOLINI 



FOUR TALKS Wmi THE DUCE 



BY p:rnst rOdtger prince starhemberg 



This is the second article taken from the autobiographical manuscript prepared by Prince Starhemherg, whore Far- 
cist Heimwehr in Atistria was actively supported by Mussolini during the early thirties as a bulwark against Hitler's 
rising power. In this article Prince Starhemberg gives his version of four talks he had with Mussolini. — The Editors 



This fast interview took place in 7934, soon 
after Schuschnigg had succeeded the murdered 
Chancellor Dollfuss. Prince Starhemberg, 
then Vice-Chancellor, was visiting the summer 
camp in Italy which Mussolini had placed at 
the disposal oj the boys oj the '^Toung Aus- 
tria^^ movement, of which Prince Starhemberg 
was the leader. 

THE Duce was expected at our camp 
in the early afternoon, where he was 
to take part with our boys in a short 
service in memory of Dollfuss, after 
which I was to have a talk with him. 
The camp, among the sttme pines on the 
shore of the Tyrrhenian Sea, offered a 
healthy life to the boys who spent their 
vacations m its tents. In addition to 
plenty of sea bathing, there was the dis- 
cipline of military and gymnastic exer- 
cises, and lectures were given on Aus- 
tria's history and its future. 

A large crowd had assembled at the 
entrance to the camp as the news of the 
Duce's visit had leaked out. The streets 
were lined on both sides by crowds of 
holiday-makers, fisherfolk, workmen, and 
other inhabitants of Ostia, as well as by 
numerous visitors from Rome. Fascist 
militia drove furiously up and down to 
keep order and take precautionary 
measures. A Fascist band was in readi- 
ness. There was tense expectancy, par- 



ticularly among our boys, who were now 
to see their host face to face. Suddenly 
there was a movement in the dense crowd. 
People craned their necks; louder and 
louder grew the cries of "Duce, Duce," 
the rhythmically repeated call which 
greets Mussolini's every appearance. 
The band struck up the "Giovinezza," 
our thirteen-year-old hornist blew the 
"General March," and the camp guard, 
consisting of sixteen boys between ten 
and twelve in their smart "Jung-Vater- 
land" uniform — green shirt, green shorts, 
white stockings, and a green cap with a 
cock's feather — presented arms with 
little dummy rifles. The officer of the 
guard, a little fellow of twelve, smartly 
reported all correct. The Duce, ob- 
viously pleased, stroked his cheek and 
then came up to me. 

"You have been through bad times," 
he said, as we walked to the dais side by 
side. Here a small altar of stones and 
flowers had been erected, supporting a 
large portrait of Dollfuss. The Duce 
stood before the altar in silence and 
looked long at the picture. Then he 
turned and said to me: "That man was 
my friend. I was very fond of him. 
Europe has lost a great man." 

On the day of Dollfuss's murder Mus- 
solini had sensed the danger that threat- 
ened Austria and had mobilized the 



.\ R I ! N" 



166 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



Alpine Corps and dispatched it to the 
Brenner and other frontier stations ready 
to march into Austri?. The plan suc- 
ceeded, for Hitler understood that he 
would be faced with Italian troops if he 
used the opportunity created by the 
rebels for an attempt to seize Austria by 
force. To make his position quite clear 
the Duce had sent me a telegram, saying: 

"The independence of Austria is a 
principle for which Italy has fought and 
for which she will continue to fight with 
even greater determination in more 
difficult days." 

As arranged for in the program, I 
made a short speech from the platform, 
thanking the Duce for the friendship he 
had shown to Dollfuss, to us, and par- 
ticularly to our country in the critical 
days just past, and I closed with a request 
for his help until the final victory and the 
liberation of Austria from the danger 
which threatened. 

Mussolini replied in a few short em- 
phatic sentences in German, addressing 
himself particularly to the boys drawn 
up in front of him. He told them they 
could be especially proud of their coun- 
try, which had produced a martyr like 
Dollfuss. Also that Austria, true to her 
mission as the defender of European 
civilization against barbarism, had added 
a new page of glory to her history by 
challenging the new barbarism and over- 
coming this onslaught on her liberty. 
They must never forget what Austria 
was and must always remain good Aus- 
trians. The boys replied with a spon- 
taneous "Heil Mussolini," "Heil Doll- 
fuss," and ended with "Down with 
Hitler." The Duce noted the last shout 
with visible satisfaction. 

After this short ceremony we repaired 
to my tent, which was fitted up with 
every modern comfort. In front of it 
were placed a table and chairs. This 
was my opportunity for a talk with 
Mussolini. A crowd of young Aus- 
trians watched us with curiosity but at a 
respectful distance, whispering among 
themselves. No doubt those children 
from the peasant and working classes 



felt very important at being present on 
such a historic occasion. 

I began by thanking the Duce once 
more for the help he had given us and 
also expressing the thanks of the new 
Chancellor. The Duce replied: 

"What I have done was dictated by 
my friendship for Austria, my friendship 
for Dollfuss and for you. But it was also 
done in the vital interests of Italy. 
And," he continued, "it was done for 
Europe. It would mean the end of 
European civilization if a country of 
murderers and pederasts were to overrun 
Europe." 

He asked me for further details of the 
revolt. I gave him a short account of 
events and specially emphasized the 
proof we had that in Carinthia young 
men with north-German accents had 
taken part in the putsch and that both 
in Carinthia and in Salzburg arms of 
German origin — new Mauser rifles and 
automatic pistols — had fallen into our 
hands. I told him how our investiga- 
tions had brought definite proof that the 
putsch had been systematically organ- 
ized by the Government of the Reich. 

At that the Duce was roused. He 
rolled his eyes as he always does when 
excited, and he said forcibly: "There is 
no doubt that the National Socialist 
Government was the instigator of this 
revolution and that Hitler had Dollfuss 
murdered." Visibly stirred, but with- 
out raising his voice, he exclaimed three 
times: "Hitler is the murderer of Doll- 
fuss; Hitler is the guilty man; he is re- 
sponsible for this." 

He continued to speak of Hitler very 
contemptuously, calling him "a horrible 
sexual degenerate, a dangerous fool." 
His strictures on Nazism were severe. 
It was a "revolution of the old Germanic 
tribes of the primeval forest against the 
Latin civilization of Rome." He grew 
almost violent as he said that National 
Socialism and Fascism could not be put 
on the same plane. "Certainly," he 
added, "there are outward similarities. 
Both are authoritarian systems, both are 
collectivist, socialistic. Both systems op- 



lil. 1 WKEiN 111 1 LLR AM) M I .S,S(>)l.iM 



167 



pose liberalism. But Fascism is a rcf^iinc 
thai is rooted in the t;r(\'it cultural tradi- 
tion of the I (alian people; I"'asei.siii recog- 
nizes the right of the individual, it rec- 
ognizes religion and family. Nati(jnal 
Socialism, on the other hand, is savage 
barbarism; in conuuon with barbarian 
hordes, it allows no rights to the indi- 
vidual; the chieftain is lord over the life 
and death of his people. Murder and 
killing, loot and pillage and blackmail 
are all it can produce. The abominable 
and repulsive spectacle that Hitler 
showed the world on June 30th would 
not have been tolerated by any other 
country in the world," Mussolini shouted. 
"Only these primitive Germans, pre- 
pared even for murder, will put up with 
such things." 

Never before or after did I see the Duce 
so excited, and once again he empha- 
sized the necessity of having done with 
this dangerous madman, as he called 
Hitler, for he would yet set the whole 
world ablaze. 

Developing this theme, he said: "Per- 
haps the murder of Dollfuss has done 
some good. Perhaps the Great Powers 
will recognize the German danger. It 
may be possible to organize a great 
coalition against Germany. I cannot 
always be the only one to march to the 
Brenner," he said, laughing almost scorn- 
fully. "Others must show some interest 
in Austria and the Danube Basin." 

I told him that we shared this hope, 
for the future filled us with anxiety. 
"Economically we shall not be able to 
hold out long," I told him. 

Mussolini returned to the internal 
affairs of Austria. With typical blunt- 
ness he asked: "Is Schuschnigg any 
good? I am told he is like a professor." 

I defended Schuschnigg; he might be 
inclined to be professorial, but he was 
young enough to show fight if need be. 

"Austria has lost much in Dollfuss," 
the Duce said. "So have you person- 
ally. I know he was a great friend of 
yours; he told me so. You two worked 
well together. I hope the same will be 
possible with Schuschnigg." 



Mussolini then asked ab(jut Fey. I 
told him cjuile plainly my opinion that 
l-'ey was iiiiplicalcd in Xa/.i plots again.st 
I)(jllfuss. Musstjlini said in the trench- 
ant way he had: " Fey is less dangenjus in 
the Government than outside it. The 
only alternative is t(; lock him up and 
for that you need more pr(j(jf." Turn- 
ing again to foreign affairs, Mussolini 
said he would consider how to start 
organizing a common front against the 
German danger. 

"Hitler will create an army. Hitler 
will arm the Germans and make war — 
possibly even in two or three years. I 
cannot stand up to him alone. We 
must do something. We must do some- 
thing quickly." 

Before we parted we arranged that, in 
accordance with Schuschnigg's sugges- 
tion, he and Mussolini should meet soon 
at Florence. Mussolini was anxious to 
make Schuschnigg's acquaintance. 

The camp guard again presented 
arms; the boys had by this time caught 
some of the spirit of the country and 
shouted "Duce, Duce, Duce" with the 
rest, at which Mussolini grinned from 
ear to ear as he walked to the camp 
gates to enter his car. 

II 

Soon after the murder oj Dollfuss, Franz 
von Papen became Hitler^ s minister to Austria. 
It was his job to win Schuschnigg away from 
Italy and establish co-operation between Aus- 
tria and Hitler's Reich. Vice-Chancellor 
Starhemberg's close ties to Mussolini made him 
Von Papen's bitter opponent. The follow- 
ing conversation took place immediately after 
Hitler's troops marched into the Rhineland 
in March, 1936. 

While many officials of Fascist Italy 
seemed to view the German march into 
the demilitarized zone with a malicious 
glee directed against France, the Duce 
when I talked with him was visibly 
disturbed. 

"Yes," he said, "this is the beginning. 
You will see, Germany will now rearm. 



168 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



In a very few years she will be fully 
armed and will be a danger to the whole 
of Europe." 

"What will the others do now?" I in- 
terjected, meaning the Western Powers. 

"The others," said Mussolini testily, 
"the others, well, what will they do? 
Nothing! France won't do anything 
without England and England won't 
take any steps against Germany." After 
a short pause, he continued: "What can 
they do? They can't do anything at all. 
They can't march into Germany and 
make war." Mussolini was playing 
with some paper clips which lay piled 
up in a little dish. I had often noticed 
this habit of his. During a conversation 
he would take out a few clips and make 
them into a chain. Then he would undo 
the chain and bend up the clips. Some- 
times he appeared to be deeply en- 
grossed in this task. But by the move- 
ments of his facial muscles one could see 
that his brain was working feverishly. 
At times he would push out his lower lip 
so far as to give him a grotesque look. I 
noticed this trick on this occasion. The 
sound of traffic reached us from the 
street. Suddenly the Duce said: 

"It will be difficult; the situation in 
Austria will also be more difficult. The 
National Socialists will have new possi- 
bilities for propaganda." 

I did not answer at once. Again there 
was silence in the room until the Duce 
continued: "Germany will grow strong, 
she will grow too strong. It has not 
been possible to forbid Germany to re- 
arm. One-sided rearmament was sense- 
less. Germany must not be too weak 
or she will go bolshevist. Germany 
must be strong enough to resist bolshe- 
vism, but" — and he emphasized the 
next words — "she must not be allowed 
to be strong enough to be a danger to 
Europe." 

That did not seem quite clear to me. 
"How," I asked, "is it possible to draw 
the line? Either you allow her to rearm 
or you do not." 

"It can be done," said the Duce. 
"Some European organization must be 



set up against Germany. Europe must 
compel Germany to respect her rights." 

"Perhaps this is the psychological mo- 
ment to do so," I said. 

"Yes, perhaps, but it is very difficult to 
unite Europe." 

I raised a side issue of more particular 
interest to us Austrians. "How would 
your Excellency regard an attempt on 
our part to approach closer to the Little 
Entente countries, particularly Czecho- 
slovakia? Schuschnigg is already play- 
ing with the idea, but we don't want to 
do anything behind your back." 

Mussolini did not look pleased. He 
frowned and said: "Are you sure Schusch- 
nigg is not going too far? I don't think 
he is greatly in favor of intimate relations 
with Italy." 

I denied this. I told him Schuschnigg 
was absolutely loyal to him, the Duce, 
and apart from that fully realized the 
vital importance of Italian support 
against National Socialist Germany. 
Mussolini was not entirely reassured. 

"Perhaps Schuschnigg thinks he will 
no longer need Italy if he has alliances 
with the Little Entente countries." 

I dissented. "Schuschnigg is not 
thinking of any union with the Little 
Entente. But, if only from an economic 
point of view, a rapprochement with 
Prague is important and can only 
strengthen our political position." I 
continued, perhaps rather overemphati- 
cally, "Excellency, you yourself could 
hardly wish us to remain isolated in the 
Danube Basin because of our close rela- 
tions with you. Ideologically the new 
Austria is in any event drawing closer 
to Fascist Italy." 

Mussolini still looked glum. "I know 
that you and the Heimatschutz are in 
sympathy with Fascism; but how about 
Schuschnigg? Schuschnigg is Tyrolese 
and strong propaganda is being made 
there about South Tyrol. Schuschnigg's 
friends at Innsbruck talk a lot about 
South Tyrol." 

We had now broached a delicate topic. 
"May I speak frankly?" I asked. The 
Duce nodded and I said: "Excellency, 



BETWEEN HITLER AND MUSSOLINI 



169 



you must also look at this question from 
the Austrian p>oint of view. For us this 
is not a political question or even one of 
prestige. It is entirely a matter of senti- 
ment, for the North Tyrolese even more 
than for us. Near Meran in South 
TvTol stands Castle T>to1, from which 
the country gets its name. The fact 
that your military frontier is on the 
Brenner and will remain there has been 
accepted by all Ausirians; we also agree 
that South TyTol will remain Italian 
both politically and economically. But 
what troubles us in Austria is the cultural 
fate of the German-speaking minority." 

Mussolini, who had been listening in- 
tently, said, "You Austrians exaggerate 
so. Why do you only speak of the Ger- 
mans of South T\Tol, why not of the 
Germans of Marburg in Yugoslavia or of 
the Germans of Sudetenland? They too 
are oppressed, far more than the Ger- 
mans in South Tyrol.'' He went on: 
"I have nothing against the Germans in 
South T\TcL no one has anything against 
them provided they are loyal to us. But 
there are always irredentists among them. 
I have given instructions that the Ger- 
mans shall be treated in a fair and ac- 
commodating spirit.'* 

I clung to my point. '•'Perhaps these 
instructions are not always carried out 
by the local authorities. I am quite 
sure that injustices have been committed 
and that there have been encroachments 
upon individual rights. The whole 
question is now being used as the chief 
propaganda theme of the National 
Socialists. For some years propaganda 
about South Tyrol died down; but lately 
it has been particularly violent. I tell 
you plainly that I have been accused of 
selling South T\to1 to you. It would 
help a great deal if you could allow the 
Austrian Government the success of 
pointing to some amelioration in the lot 
of our comrades in South T\to1 as the 
fruit of our friendly relations with Italy." 

I noticed by the rolling of his eyes that 
this interested the Duce. 

"Very well," he said, "I \N-ill see what 
can be done." (Certain improvements 



in the cultural life of .South Tyrol were in 
fact granted a Htdc later.) 

I returned to the question of a rap- 
prochement with Czer ■ kia, and 
finally the Duce said: ' . . want lo 
interfere in Austrian politics. If you 
think an agreement with Prague is im- 
portant, ir\' it." 

Again there was a long pause, while 
each perused his own thoughts. Sud- 
denly the Duce put a completely unex- 
p>ected question. "How many divisions 
can Austria put into the field?" 

I confess I was not in a position to 
answer. I knew that the Austrian army 
was thirty- thousand strong, added to 
which were a few thousand auxiliaries, 
but we had never seriously gone into the 
question of militarv* preparations. Our 
only enemy was National Socialist Ger- 
many and to resist \'.as rather more a 
political than a militan.- question. I 
told the Duce I could not give him exact 
information on this f>oint. 

'T think Austria must arm and ver\' 
quickly. There is not much time," he 
said. 

Before parting we discussed the neces- 
sity* of an increased effort to counter 
Nazi propaganda in \-iew of the occupa- 
tion of the Rhineland. An intensified 
counter-propaganda was planned and 
the Duce placed six himdred thousand 
schillings at our dispK)sal for this purpose 
for the next few months. 



Ill 

Prince Starhemh erg's visit to England, as 
Austrian representative at the funeral of King 
George F, convinced him that the British anger 
at Mussolini's Ethiopian campaign would 
isolate Italy and perhaps eventually driv-e her 
into a rapprochement with Berlin. Therefore 
Starhemherg urged Schuschnigg to form a united 
front with Italy and Hungary and demand that 
Hitler remove all cause of conflict from the 
Danube Basin and pledge himself to respect 
Austria's independence. The foUoujimg amr 
versation occurred when Schuschnigg {who was 
not much taken with the plan) sent the Vice- 
Chancellor to discuss it with Mussolini, 



170 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



Shortly after returning from London I 
went to Rome to discuss Ati^tria's critical 
political situation •s\'ith the Duce. I 
arrived as the first news of decisive vic- 
tories in Ethiopia was causing great ela- 
tion in Rome. Addis Ababa had not 
fallen, but the victories just achieved left 
no doubt as to the satisfactory- outcome of 
the war. \Vhen the Abyssinian cam- 
paign had been first mooted and war 
had seemed certain, the idea had been 
thoroughly unpopular among Italians, 
even in Fascist circles. Friends con- 
nected \dth Fascist Italy had told me that 
the Duce's policy was madness; it could 
only end in failure and be very danger- 
ous for Italy. But now they thought 
ver>- differentiy. The feeling against 
the English, who wanted to prevent 
Italy from exerting '*the right of e very- 
Great Power to obtain colonies/' out- 
vreighed the critical attitude of the 
pre\aous autumn. Sanctions had made 
the war popular. 

The Italians did not realize the extent 
of the rift bet^veen them and England. 
Jubilant at their \-ictorieS; they were 
inclined to regard the continental prob- 
lems arising out of Abyssinia as settied. 

I mentioned this to the Duce. After 
congratulating him on his successes. I 
said: "You have certainly w^on in Abys- 
sinia but in Europe you are faced with a 
new front." 

Contrary to his practice,, the Duce 
interrupted me saying: *'That will all be 
changed. ^Vhat's the news from Aus- 
tria?'' And ^^-ithout waiting for my 
answer he went on: 'T shall not forget 
what Austria has done for Italy in the 
sanctions question. I have greatiy ap- 
preciated her attitude. Tell me. ho-vv 
are things? Are you satisfied?" 

I told him how matters stood: that 
there was active underground activitv 
by the Nazis and that many Nazis hoped 
that Italy would come out of the Abys- 
sinian war weakened. "And," I added. 
•'*I will not conceal from you that many 
good Austrians think the same. Not 
long ago I was %isited by Herr X (I men- 
tioned the name of a thoroughly pa- 



triotic middle-class Austrian \\dth strong 
democratic ideas). He said quite openly 
that Italy would emerge weakened from 
the Abyssinian campaign and that this 
would be the beginning of the end for 
Fascist ideolog>^ National Socialism 
would also receive a severe shock and 
would collapse in Austria." 

Mussolini replied: "That's stupid. 
Don't these people understand that 
democracy on the Continent is finished?" 
He shook his head and continued: 
"These shortsighted people have not yet 
realized the part of Italy on the Conti- 
nent. If Italy grows weak Germany 
will grow strong. Only a strong Italy 
can keep Germany in check. It is all 
the same to me what system of govern- 
ment is adopted by Austria or by other 
countries. I have no wish to export 
Fascism. I only want law and order 
in Austria and elsewhere, and I want all 
those forces organized which are neces- 
sary to resist a German attack. That 
attack may start very soon." 

I told the Duce of our anxiety lest his 
interest be diverted from Europe by 
Abyssinia. "We are very concerned for 
the results of the Abyssinian campaign in 
our country," I said. 

Mussolini replied: "I had to wage 
the Abyssinian campaign. Italy needs 
new colonies, the Italian people require 
more land, Italy has become too small 
for us. The African colonies we already 
possessed were to a great extent unpro- 
ductive. They cannot solve our prob- 
lem of overpopulation: forty-four million 
Italians have to live on a third of the 
space occupied by the same number of 
Frenchmen. And our population is 
growing rapidly, for the Italians are a 
prolific people." 

Mussolini pointed out the great mis- 
take the Western Powers had made in 
not taking Italy seriously. He com- 
plained again, as he had often done be- 
fore, that no one would understand that 
Italy had become one of the Great Pow- 
ers since the War; that the agreement 
promising Italy colonies in Africa in 
return for her entry into the war had not 



BETWEEN IIl'lLKR AND xMUSSOLINl 



171 



\)vvn kept. Tlic i^rcat services rciKicrcd 
by the Italian army had never he(ai 
recognized. Iweryone talked of ( lapo- 
retto, never of the great victories won 
hy Italy. 

1 could not help sniihng to myself at 
that. We Austrians saw little of these 
victories, for the so-called victory of 
Vittorio Veneto, which had been so 
loudly acclaimed, looked very difTerenl 
to us. We had regarded the armistice 
as settled and our troops were already 
retiring under orders when the Italians 
advanced, cut off part of the Austrian 
army, and captured it. 

After explaining the necessity for the 
Abyssinian campaign, he turned to the 
future: "I have no reason to be hostile 
to England. We in Italy have nothing 
against England and I am convinced 
that she will accept the occupation of 
Abyssinia if it is presented as a fait ac- 
compli. England is sufficiently realist to 
understand that a colonial conflict can- 
not alter the balance of power in Europe. 
England has as great an interest in re- 
storing normal relations with Italy as 
has Italy herself." 

I replied that, from the impression I 
had gained in London, anger against 
Italy was far too deep for that. "In 
England," I said, "the League of Na- 
tions still counts for a lot. It seems to 
me that the English have made up their 
minds to preserve this ideal. They 
won't give in easily." 

Mussolini laughed: "League of Na- 
tions! The ideal of the League! The 
League is just a farce!" 

I replied: "That is how you regard it 
and so do I. That is how it is viewed 
in Italy and also by the majority of 
Austrians. But in England they still 
believe firmly in the ideas incorporated 
in the Covenant." 

Mussolini replied: "The papers may 
have fostered this idea in some circles. 
The British press is hostile to me and to 
Fascism. But English politicians surely 
cannot believe it. They are not even 
applying sanctions against me seriously." 
Mussolini laughed again. "My Min- 



ister of I vm\v ( (juld show ycju the figures 
ol all we have inipoitcd from England 
during the past weeks and month.s. 
The sanctions too arc a farce. The 
Englisli could do noiliing else and that is 
why this whole coni(-dy was staged. 
They know very well that they need me 
in Europe and it is not to their interest to 
weaken me." 

I had brought back a different impres- 
sion from L{jndon and I gave the Duce 
details of my conversation. I then ex- 
plained the plan I had suggested to 
Schuschnigg. Mussolini listened care- 
fully; then, emphasizing his disagreement 
by gesticulations, he said: "No, that is no 
good." He shook his head several 
times, looked at me silently for a few 
minutes, then said: "Is it possible to 
make a pact with Germany? Is she 
capable of keeping a pact? Is peace 
possible with Germany?" 

And without giving me time to an- 
swer, he went on: "It is impossible. 
Germany will never keep a pact. She 
does not want peace. Germany wishes 
to seize Austria because it will open the 
door to the Balkans and the Adriatic. 
Even if Germany made an agreement 
with us now she would break it one day, 
because she would be pledging herself 
to something which is contrary to her 
present policy. There is no sense in 
making agreements containing clauses 
against the interest of one of the con- 
tracting parties. I do not think this is a 
good plan; it creates an anti-democratic 
bloc, an ideological bloc. Such a bloc 
is a mistake — a mere Utopia." 

After a long discussion — in which 
Mussolini insisted that Austria's security 
could best be assured by a revival of the 
Stresa Front, uniting Britain, France, 
and Italy against Germany — he broke 
off the interview and asked me to visit 
him again before I left Rome. 

I saw him again shortly afterw^ard and 
took the opportunity of saying: "Your 
Excellency, I tell you frankly I am not 
quite happy about what you said the 
other day. I think it will be difficult to 
re-establish the former collaboration 



172 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



with the Western Powers for the main- 
tenance of order in the IJanube Basin 
and, above all, for the maintenance of 
Austrian independence. Do not be 
angry if I put a plain question to you: 
Can we Austrians definitely count upon 
you not to come to an agreement with 
Berlin at the expense of Austria? And 
not to yield to Berlin on the Austrian 
question?" 

Mussolini answered almost solemnly, 
emphasizing each word: "You know my 
feeling toward Austria. I have shown 
it not only in words but in deeds. This 
feeling has not changed and will not 
change. I will not give up Austria. I 
cannot give her up. You may count 
upon that definitely. My friendship 
for Austria is based on the material 
interest which Italy has in Austria's 
maintenance. Therefore, as long as I 
am directing Italy's policy the survival 
of Austria will be an integral part of this 
policy. But every politician in Italy 
must prevent Greater Germany from 
having a common frontier with Italy. 
For that would prove to be Italy's worst 
hour." 

IV 

During the spring of 1936 there was in- 
creasing tension between Schuschnigg — who 
jelt that Austrian independence could he main- 
tained only by arriving at an accord with 
Germany — and Starhemberg, who still urged a 
united front with Italy against Hitler. On 
May 14th Schuschnigg formed a new Cabinet, 
and Starhemberg was out. 

On the day following the formation 
of the new Cabinet I left for Rome, where 
the Austrians were to play a football 
match against the Italians for a cup pre- 
sented by myself. 

I had a short interview with the Duce 
on my arrival. As soon as I entered the 
room he came to meet me and said: "I 
think you're well out of it. Let Schusch- 
nigg show what he can do alone. If 
he is a good man and is successful it will 
be good for Austria and good for you. 
If he fails it is as well for Austria that 



you are not compromised with him, but 
are waiting in reserve." 

Mussolini asked for further details 
about the new Government and listened 
to my descriptions of the new men. 
Then, smiling slyly, he asked: "Who is 
the politician in this Cabinet? Who is 
the fighter? Which of them will fight?" 

I said nothing. I was anxious to 
avoid saying anything which could be 
regarded as criticism of Schuschnigg. 

Mussolini looked at me inquiringly. 
Thereupon I told him that Goering 
wanted to meet me and discuss Austria's 
future, and asked him what he thought 
of the idea. He laughed and said: 
"Goering! No, you must not talk with 
Goering. Goering is a ridiculous figure, 
he is not serious-minded. You must 
not talk to Goering; there is no point in 
that. You would only be compromised, 
and Austria will need you yet in the 
struggle against the Nazis." 

As we parted after this short conversa- 
tion he said again: "I think you should 
be pleased. It is a good thing that you 
are in reserve and that Schuschnigg 
should make his attempt alone." 

The following day the football match 
took place. Mussolini, who had signi- 
fied his intention of being present, kept us 
all waiting. His two sons and his son-in- 
law, Ciano, had returned from Abyssinia 
that day. He went to meet them at the 
aerodrome and was late on that account. 
I sat next him in his box. He had 
brought his wife and small son. The 
other two sons and Ciano were also 
present. This was the first time I had 
met his wife, who appeared a simple, 
pleasant person. The youngest daughter 
of the King was also of the party. 

The match revealed the passionate and 
temperamental behavior of the Italian 
public. The Austrian team had been 
greeted enthusiastically with cries of 
^'Evviva Austria!^^ But alas, when they 
shot their first goal and luck seemed to 
be favoring them, loud protests and 
shouts were directed against them. 
Insults were hurled, and this intense 
feeling, which showed itself in violent 



BETWEEN HiriJ.R AND MUSSOIJM 



173 



demonstrations against the Austrian 
team, continued to the end of play. I 
watched MussoHni. I noticed that he 
too was carried away at mermen ts and 
found it dinicult to control himself. I le 
would have liked to shout with (he rest. 
All the same the attitude of the public 
rather embarrassed him. When the 
Austrians were accused of a foul and the 
shouting grew particularly loud, Mus- 
solini turned to me and said: "Do you 
understand what is the matter? I can't 
understand what they arc getting so 
excited about." 

In the end the Italians were victorious. 
The Austrian team received a further 
wild ovation as they left the field. I 
was glad that the Italians had won and 
so were the football officials who had 
come to Rome with me. We had 
always wanted them to win my cup. 
The return game was planned to take 
place in Vienna for a prize to be given by 
Mussolini. As I left the stadium the 
crowd cheered me loudly. Cries of 
^^Evviva Austria anti-sanctionista^^ were 
heard on all sides. 

On one of the following days Musso- 
lini gave a lunch in my honor at Castel 
Fusano, a particularly beautiful part of 
the coast at Ostia. A charming little res- 
taurant built up on piles over the sea 
was the focal point of this lovely spot. 
It was at this restaurant, away from the 
noisy beach of Ostia, that the lunch took 
place. I sat opposite Mussolini. Poli- 
tics were hardly mentioned throughout 
the meal; we talked of the football match 
and of the coming Olympic Games. 

Afterward we stood about in groups 
drinking black coffee. Mussolini leaned 
against a balustrade in the midst of a 
group of guests. As I approached him 
they melted away and left us together. 
We stood awhile without speaking. I 
can see him now, leaning against the 
railing, silhouetted against the gray 
background of the Tyrrhenian Sea. 
Then he began to speak. 

"It is very important," he said, "that 
Austria should have peace, that she 
should be united and strong. I think 



(hat diflicuit (inirs arc approaching for 
all Europe. It will be terrible for weak 
and disunited countries." 

1 did not answer. Mussolini went on: 
"Germany is arming, arming on a big 
scale. Germany will be very strong. 
She will have a large army and it will 
be an up-to-date army. Perhaps within 
three or four years, perhaps socjncr, this 
army will be ready. 71ien Hitler will 
go to war, because he wants to do a great 
deal which can only be done by force. 
At that time a great European coalition 
should be ready to oppose him." 

There was a short pause. He con- 
tinued, "But what can I do? I cannot 
be gendarme for the whole of Europe. 
And the others (the Western Powers) do 
not understand how dangerous it will be. 
Do you remember," Mussolini added, 
"two years ago when Hitler had Dollfuss 
murdered and threatened Austria? I 
was quite alone, but it was different then. 
Germany was not so strong. But the 
Western Powers will not understand. 
Why all these quarrels? Colonial ques- 
tions may be important, but they cannot 
be as important as the question of the 
Continent." Then, half turning round 
and pointing out to sea, he said: "They 
quarrel about the sea — our sea," he said, 
laughing shortly, "or the French sea or the 
English sea. What's the sense of that? 
Why must one nation have a sea? The 
sea belongs to all who sail it, and there 
is room for all." 

It was getting late. I knew that the 
Duce had to return to Rome, and took 
my leave, thanking him for his hospital- 
ity. His last words were: "I have not 
altered in my feelings for you or for 
Austria. You can always count on me as 
your friend and as a friend of Austria." 

As I looked round on leaving, I saw 
Mussolini in his tightly fitting dark suit, 
his powerful head, which always re- 
minded me of the Colleoni statue, his 
strong jaw, the closely cut sparse hair. 
He was still leaning upon the rails, his 
figure still silhouetted against the limitless 
background. I have never seen him 
since. 




THE EIGHT-OARED SHELL 



BY OLIVER LA FARGE 



FOR most of us who have rowed in an 
eight-oared shell there is no hope 
whatever of continuing after we have 
left college, but the love of it remains. A 
few weeks ago I met a Yale man who 
had rowed there while I was at Harvard. 
I don't remember how the subject came 
up, but we began talking about it, then 
we drew away from the rest of the party 
and lovingly, happily, rowed over our 
whiskeys until our wives dragged us 
home. This has happened to me many 
times. No writer has told the nature of 
rowing in an eight-oared shell to lands- 
men; none who haven't rowed under- 
stand what it is we remember — the crash 
of the oars in the locks, the shell leaping 
at the catch, the unity and rhythm and 
the desperate effort; so that now when 
we meet we babble with joy. 

What is the nature of it? To begin 
with the setting — the green-banked river 
or the Charles Basin ringed by the city, 
both are beautiful. The shell swinging 
through open country on a fine spring 
day is hard to beat. Down on the Basin 
the water is oily, in the late afternoon it 
catches the deepening sunset, after dark 
the advertising signs over the factories 
are reflected on it, twisting as if the lights 
were darting snakes, and the swirl of one's 
oar is shot with color. There is the slight 
excitement and the echoing change of 
sound in shooting under a bridge, there is 
the fresh day on the river as you carry 
your shell down to the float. Rural or 
urban water, rowing is set in beauty to 
begin with. 

There is the nature of the stroke itself, 



the most perfect combination I have ever 
known of skill and the full release of one's 
power. It takes more than a dumb ox 
to make a fine oarsman, the traditional 
"weak brain and strong back" won't 
serve. To my mind it begins with the 
"recovery," the forward reach to get 
ready for a stroke. You are sitting on a 
slide, a seat on rollers, which runs on a 
track about two feet long, set variously 
according to the type of stroke your 
coach favors. Your two hands are on 
the loom of your twelve-foot oar, balanc- 
ing it neatly. If you lower them too 
far you sky the blade of your oar, and the 
shift of the center of gravity will make 
the boat rock and cost you precious 
headway; if you raise them too high your 
oar will touch the waves and you may 
cause a jolt that will throw the whole 
boat out of time. So your hands are 
balancing delicately — next time you see 
a good crew rowing watch the oars mov- 
ing together clear of the water on the 
recovery; see how narrow that long shell 
is and realize the miracle of balance that 
keeps it steady while those big men 
swing aft and the long sweeps reach for- 
ward. Or watch a green crew, see the 
oars at eight different levels and the shell 
wallowing from side to side. 

You are moving your hands, your 
shoulders, and your tail aft (you are facing 
aft) at three different speeds, to bring each 
to its stopping point at the same time. If 
you rush your slide to the end of its run, 
that sharp motion and possibly the abrupt 
stopping at the end will check the motion 
of the shell, you can see it happen, and 



THE Eicii r-()ARi:i) siii:ll 



175 



yon youi-stHf will fnll into ihc j:)()sili<)n of 
yoni' ni.'ixinnnn cllorl willi ;i jerk which 
will put yon onl ol b.ilancc I lands, 
shoulders, slide, ninsl niovt^ ///, related litiie 
one to anodirr, and in j)('i(r(t time with 
the other sev(Mi men, so that al the light 
nionuMit yon are leaning forward just 
far enough for reach and not too far for 
power, your slide is all the way aft, your 
legs and knees are ready, your back is 
arched, not slumped, and your balancing 
hands are holding firmly to the oar. In 
the very last part of your swing your 
outside hand, the one toward the blade, 
makes a half turn so that the blade, 
which was parallel to the water, is per- 
pendicular to it. 

Catch ! A slight raising of your hands 
and arms has dropped your blade into 
the water, and instantaneously your 
shoulders take hold. That simple action 
is not quite so simple. If you have not 
done it minutely right your oar may 
skitter out above the water, slice too 
deeply into the water to help the boat, 
or you may catch a crab — entangle your 
oar in water so that you can't get it out. 
That last is virtual shipwreck; it may 
knock you out of the boat, and it will 
almost certainly lose a race. Once you 
and seven other men are driving with 
all your forces it is too late to attempt to 
turn or guide your oar. You must have 
dropped it into the water so accurately 
that it will stay with the blade just sub- 
merged all the way through your pull 
and come out willingly. That is part of 
the turn of your outside hand and the act 
of slightly raising your arms. 

An immeasurably short time after your 
shoulders, your legs start to drive. Now 
your arms are merely straps attaching 
your hands to your body; legs and shoul- 
ders and back are pulling on the oar for 
all they are worth; everything you've got 
is going into it, but you have taken care 
that your tail, driven by your legs, will 
not shoot on the slide ahead of your 
shoulders. 

You have driven through almost to the 
end of the catch, your slide is almost 
home, your shoulders are back. Now 



your arms eome m, .ind just as yoiir 
knees conic down locked, your hands 
touch y(jiir sioniac ii. Here is the pretti- 
est pait of the sircjke, the slioot of the 
hands to start the recovery. Remember, 
your oar is still de-p in the water rushing 
past your boat; il ii is caught in that it 
turns to a wild machine. As your hands 
touch your belly they drop, shoot out, in 
a motion "as fast and smo(;th as a billiard 
ball caroming," at the same time ycjur 
inside wrist turns and the blade is onr;e 
more parallel to the water -feathered. 
The shoot of your hands and arms brings 
your shoulders forward and you begin 
your recovery once more. 

All this that I have described happens 
in a single stroke by a good oarsman. 
This stroke, its predecessors and succes- 
sors, is performed in a unison with seven 
other men which is more perfect than 
merely being in time, with the balance of 
the body maintained also in relation to 
the keel so that the boat shall not roll. 
At a moderate racing rate it is performed 
thirty-two to thirty-six times to the 
minute — all of this, nothing omitted — 
and in a rhythm which keeps the time of 
the recovery not less than double that 
of the catch. 

This is not the whole of rowing, but it 
is the basic part of the individual's job in 
it. Unite it to another fundamental and 
you can have a crew. 

The other fundamental is unison. I 
have said that a crew does not merely 
keep time; it does something subtler 
than that, it becomes one. This it 
cannot do if there is bad feeling among 
the men in the boat; a single antagonistic 
personality can keep eight oarsmen 
from becoming a crew rowing together 
even though they are accurately follow- 
ing the stroke's oar and the coxswain's 
counting. Crews are not made up on a 
basis of personalities, but according to 
the coaches' estimate of individual 
capacities; it is after they are rowing to- 
gether that they become friends. The 
crews on which I rowed at Harvard con- 
tained men with whom I had nothing 
in common, men by whom I should 



176 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



naturally have been bored or antago- 
nized, and who should have disliked me. 
As we rowed together we became fond of 
one another. This relationship was not 
lasting, but for the duration of our rowing 
we esteemed and liked one another. As 
this feeling grew so did our boat shake 
down and become one, and so did we 
increasingly care for the foul-mouthed, 
brilliant little devil who was our cox and 
in a race the instrument, voice, and 
control of our unity. 

II 

You have three or four years of rowing 
back of you, and owing to them the assur- 
ance that you are a sound oarsman, a 
sound waterman, whether or no you are 
going to be good enough to win a seat in 
the particular boat you've set your heart 
on. You have spent a month or so 
rowing on the machines, indoors, with a 
tentative crew made up of four or five 
fellows with whom you rowed last year 
and some newcomers, all of merit. The 
ice has gone out of the river, it is raw and 
cold but tolerable. To-day you will take 
to the water. 

This oar is yours. No man but you 
will handle it from now till the end of 
the season, barring disaster. (I saw a 
Princeton crew once whose managers 
carried the oars down for the men; one 
hopes it was a rare exception.) You 
take it from the rack and look it over, a 
good spoon blade, not too wide, a sound 
piece of white ash, the leather in right 
condition. You ask the manager to 
roughen the handle for you a little, and 
watch critically while it is being done, 
then you take it down to the edge of the 
float. The others do the same, the cox 
brings down his rudder and megaphone. 

Here is your shell, resting upside down 
on its rack: a long cigar of wood, so thin 
that it bends readily under your finger, 
surrounding a skeleton of wood and metal 
that will stand up under the force you 
hope to bring forth. This too has its 
attributes and properties, some visible 
as you look her over, some yet to be 



learned. You take your places, the cox 
gives his command. Tenderly you lift 
her out; she's fragile. Four men on a 
side, you carry her down to the float and 
freely curse anyone who gets in your way. 
(Even those Princeton men carried down 
their own shell.) At the edge of the 
float you wait. The cox shouts "Up!" 
The shell rises to the height of your 
arms, and all eight of you are standing 
under her. Then over — gently now — 
bending all together you lay her in the 
water. This tossing a shell is a good 
ritual in itself, one of the many graces of 
rowing. It is your first genuine act as a 
crew together. 

You put in the oars, take your places, 
settle yourselves. There's a lot of ar- 
ranging and adjusting to be attended to. 
Then you shove off' and you're out in the 
stream. 

It's months since you've been in a 
boat. You are nine men who know 
your business individually, but collec- 
tively you hardly exist yet. Suddenly 
you feel self-conscious, almost afraid. 
This feeling is as much fear of a foully 
bad start and an aff'ront to your art as it 
is of the mechanism of yourself and your 
oar; but there is a fear, something big 
is coming which may go wrong, and you 
are stale. . . . 

You all swing forward and the boat 
does not lurch, a good sign. The cox's 
voice is familiar, he urges you profanely 
to get off" to a good start in front of those 
heavy-weights who are now coming on 
to the float, and you feel soothed. You 
start. The eight oars get in fairly well 
together, the shell leaps, it keeps running 
well as you swing for the next stroke, it 
leaps again. You had forgotten; for all 
your years of rowing you had forgotten 
the power of those eight sweeps driven 
together, the initial leap and run of the 
boat, the settling down to a smooth, 
even swing. The power of that first 
stroke is always astounding, so is the way 
the oars crash in the locks, and you are 
going, and you feel like a giant and you 
want to shout. 

These are parts of what the oarsman 



THE ElGIir-OAKI.I) SllI.IJ 



177 



lovrs, alonp^ with (hr sunny clays and the 
girls who stand on the bank and stare at 
the near-naked men (don't think the 
oarsmen don't spot them), and cominp; 
in at night hstening to the sounds of 
otlier crews and seeing tlie reflections of 
the guichng hghts imder tlie bridges 
dripping ofl'your oars, and the increasing 
sense of strength and competence from 
day to day, and the growing union with 
eight other men into something mystical 
and strong — values of strength, skill, 
physical beauty perceived, and the spirit. 
There are all of these in this sport which 
I loved, as there must be in those be- 
loved of others. 

Ill 

When I went to Harvard, a boy weigh- 
ing a hundred and fifty pounds had no 
future in University rowing. Having 
enjoyed two years of rowing at school, I 
treated myself to it the fall of my Fresh- 
man year as an indulgence; I did well 
but I saw that the competition was too 
stiff for me, and high-jumping offered 
me a gambler's chance at my H. I 
went out for Freshman track, although 
there was a rumor that Harvard was 
going to try out these new hundred- 
and-fifty-pound crews that were having 
such a success at one or two other col- 
leges. 

It was a raw, cold, early spring. As I 
walked over Anderson Bridge I saw the 
first Freshman eights getting into the 
river. Some damn fool stepped in the 
bottom of a shell and put his foot 
through it. Another boat got away 
cleanly and started going, rolling a bit 
but not doing badly. I could hear the 
cox's commands. Some upper-class eight 
came downstream from Newell Boat- 
house and passed right under me; those 
fellows could row. The coach followed 
in his launch, megaphone in hand. 
What he was saying was anciently 
familiar. 

I walked on to the Stadium and told 
the track coach I was going out for row- 
ing; then I went down to the boathouse 
and signed up, feeling like a man reborn. 



So it happened that [ was in (he first 
hinidrcd-and-(iny-p()ini(l rrew ever fo 
take the water frcnn Harvard. 

I find in writing about rowing that I 
tend to conr(!n(rate rather technically 
upon (he sport iiscjf, with the attendant 
danger of losing that very backgrounri of 
its relati(jn to a boy's life which would 
give it validity. This is partly because 
the average man who reads this has 
played focnball, and many women have 
at least had the game explained to them 
and have learned how to watch it, while 
the essentials of rowing are widely un- 
known. The sport became for me 
something complete in itself, into which I 
entered and from which I returned to 
ordinary life; it maintained its own, un- 
broken stream winding through the 
other currents of my Existence. I be- 
lieve you will find this true of anyone 
who is really devoted to any game. But 
it had to relate to all the rest. 

At Groton it had brought me a tolera- 
ble relationship with boys whom I re- 
spected and who carried much weight in 
the school; it had brought self-assurance 
and a realization of strength; it had 
brought the curious, traditional honors 
of athletes. There is a lot more to the 
preference of boys in most schools for 
athletic over academic honors than mere 
over-emphasis on athletics. The little 
new boy, looking about him for gods, 
finds them at the outset of his first term 
in the football giants. He sees these 
big, self-confident, deep-voiced men in 
their daily goings and comings as well as 
in the game; among them are the holders 
of many other honors, leaders of this 
and that. Those who win academic 
honors and prizes come to light much 
later; they have no letters broad across 
their chests as they go to and fro; in 
many cases they are quiet boys whom 
ordinarily one hardly notices. One may 
see them receive their prizes, but one 
does not watch, breathless, while they 
earn them. I can name oflf now the 
gods of the Sixth Form in my First Form 
year at Groton and tell who threw a long 
magnificent forward pass, who knocked 



178 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



out a triple with two men on base. I 
saw them ''tossed" — pickod up by their 
team-mates and half thrown in the air 
while the boys gave them the long cheer. 
And then, and then, one spring day, 
with mj letter broad upon my chest I was 
being jounced up in the air amid 
laughter, and it w^as my name on the end 
of the long cheer. Those gods stood 
round me in my mind, those great men, 
and I knew I was a good oarsman, and 
my crew had won, and it was legid- 
mately mine, and I knew what it was to 
love a game and be good at it, and here 
was a new strength in myself. 

Rowing at school was fun, but rowing 
at Harvard was magnificent. There 
was more of it, it was more intense, and 
it was better rowing. The hundred- 
and-fifty pound crews were stepchildren, 
born of hesitant concessions by doubting 
authorities; at first they could hope for 
no insignia, they accepted cast-ofi" shells 
and unwanted, used oars and liked them. 
They were made up of boys who were 
perfectly willing to row in a soap-box 
if necessary so long as they could row 
and count from time to time on a full- 
fledged race. We won recognition slowly, 
better boats, decent oars, a minor sports 
letter. Not until after my time did the 
lightweights get the same breaks in 
equipment and general treatment that 
less conservative colleges gave their 
rivals. We didn't care. For three years 
we rowed under the brothers, Bert and 
Bill Haynes, who themselves adored 
rowing and held it a prime part of their 
work to make us love it, thereby making 
us love them. We consciously rowed 
for them. We became a crew that could 
make the real Varsity stretch over a short 
distance, we were made use of to pace 
the Varsity for starts and sprints; one 
splendid afternoon we beat the Junior 
Varsity handily in a regular, t^vo-mile 
race. 

We loved it all, from the bitter, ail- 
but- winter days when ice formed on the 
oars to the long, grass-smelling spring 
afternoons when we went far up-river. 
The rowing after dark I remember 



especially; I never became entirely used 
to the beaut\- of the city-ringed water and 
the mystery of the bridges. 



IV 

In the due course of time it is given to 
you to row a race. Xot a practice race 
against one of your own, but the real 
article, and the oars of the boat taking 
position on your port hand are painted, 
not crimson, but a fine, shining blue. 
The feeling of it starts before then, when 
you take your shell down and toss her 
better than you ever did before, and you 
and the managers are in a difi'erent, 
special communion over the free running 
of your slide, the grease on your oar 
where it passes through the lock, the 
comfort of the stretcher into which your 
feet are laced. The love you bear each 
man in the boat is stronger, warmer, 
than it has ever been; it is positive, al- 
most visible. 

You shove off and paddle along to the 
start, taking it easily, perfecting your 
form, the cox saying just what he always 
says, everything ordinary, everything 
calming. 

Starting an eight-oared race is a 
frightful job. There is the current, and 
then there will be a slight cross-wind, 
something you wouldn't notice if you 
weren't trying to hold two or more boats 
as light as cigar boxes in perfect line be- 
side each other. You jockey and jockey, 
the good efi'ect of the paddle wears ofT. 
You get into position, the starter has 
asked "Are you ready, Harvard? Are 
you ready, Yale?" and one of the shells 
swings, and it all has to be done over 
again. 

At last you are set. A racing start 
is entirely difi'erent from the ordinary 
process of getting a shell under way. This 
time you want to make her fly at full speed 
from the first stroke, you want to develop 
speed just as fast as is humanly possible, 
and faster. You have practiced many 
times the series of short, hard strokes and 
the lengthening to the full, rhythmed 
swing, but it remains tricky, a complex 



THE ElGMl-OARLlJ SllEEl 



179 



set of motions to he done so rapidly and 
hard that you wonder if it can haj)j)cn 
without something going wrong. 

Beyond that Hcs the race, the test itself. 
You know what a gut-racking process it 
is, you are too tense about the outcome, 
you doubt if you can stand up to it. 
You are so taut inside you twang. You 
are afraid, not of anything — just afraid. 

The pistol cracks. You carry out 
those first three scrambling strokes 
neatly, you begin to form the full, bal- 
anced stroke as you go on to complete 
the ten fast ones. All those fears and 
tremors are gone and you are racing. 
Coxswain's voice comes, intentionally 
soothing, carrying you over into the 
regular swing and beat of the long-term 
pace your crew must set; you are eight 
men and you are one, the boat is going 
wdth a sizzle, smoothly through the 
water, and out of the corner of your eye 
you can see the blue blades flashing 
alongside you. 

The effort settles down and mounts 
again. There are races within the race, 
spurts w^hen one crew tries to pull sud- 
denly ahead, and the other answers, the 
sustained, increasing efTorts, the raised 
beats of the crew behind, the somehow 
easier but intense drives of the leader. 
Cox tells you you are past the halfway 
mark, he tells you you are near the end. 
The start tests a good crew, the last 
stretch proves it. You are tired now, 
everything is coming to a final settlement 
very soon, you must row harder, faster, 
and still row smoothly and well. You 
have got your second wind and used it 
up, you are pooped out and you know 
you are at the end of your strength, you 
simply have nothing left in you. The 
beat — the rate of the stroke — goes up. 
Cox is yelling, pleading, advising, curs- 
ing. And you are staying with it. 
On the recovery the captain grunts out 
something unintelligible but urgent. 
Near the end other men may wring out 
cries intended to be "Come on!" "Let's 
go!" hardly recognizable. There's not 
much of that, it's against your training 
and besides wind is too precious; but the 



prnl-up feohng is so strong tliat sornc- 
linics ii must have an outlet. This i.s a 
g(Kxl crew, a real one. As the beat is 
raised, as the reserve behind the reserves 
of strength is poured in, each stroke 
taken as if it were the last you'd ever 
row on earth, the crew still swings to- 
gether, it is still one, that awareness of 
one another and merging together is 
still present and still effective. 

Three-quarters of the way through you 
could hear them on the referee's launch 
and whatever others are permitted to 
follow, shouting, "Come on Harvard! 
Come on Yale!" Now you vaguely 
know that they are still shouting, but 
you can't really hear them. There is 
some sort of sound around the finish 
line, you do know that a great many 
people must be making a lot of noise, 
but you don't hear that either. You are 
conscious of something arching up from 
the banks which, without looking at it, 
you see, and you know it's cheering. 
Your eyes are fixed on the shoulder of 
the man in front of you and (I rowed 
starboard side) the blade of number 
seven's oar; but the one thing you do 
know is exactly where the other boat is. 
Then here it comes, the final spurt, and 
you cease to hear or see anything outside 
your business. Faint and hardly notice- 
able the pistol fires, then the cox says, 
"Easy all," and you loll forward. 

Done. Like that, done, over, de- 
cided. And you are through, you are 
truly empty now^, you have poured 
yourself out and for a while you can 
hardly stand the effort of your own 
breathing, but your tradition despises a 
man who fails to sit up in the boat. 
You have known complete exertion, you 
have answered every trouble of mind, 
spirit, and being with skilled violence 
and guided unrestraint, a complete 
happiness with eight other men over a 
short stretch of water has brought you 
catharsis. You may find it in storms at 
sea, in the practice of your art, on a 
racing horse, in bed with a woman; but 
you will hardly find it better or purer 
than you have found it here. 




THAT POST-WAR FEDERAL DEBT 



WHY IT MUST NOT EXPAND LIMITLESSLY 



BY JOHN T. FLYNN 



NINE years ago we were introduced to 
an experiment in recovery which 
was called pump-priming. The pump 
to be primed was the capitalist enter- 
prise system. The assumption was that 
the pump was out of whack and needed 
a few repairs and the infusion of a few 
billions to set it working again. 

By the summer of 1939 we had poured 
roughly 28 billions into that pump. By 
this time the notion got round that the 
pump worked only so long as the priming 
continued. Certain gentlemen in Wash- 
ington came to the conclusion that we 
had on our hands a pump not merely 
out of repair but wholly inadequate to 
the demands on it. They decided that 
we had been treating as a crisis what was 
a permanent condition. Now they have 
decided that we need two pumps — the 
private-industry pump supplemented by 
a government pump as a permanent in- 
stitution. 

The people who have savings must use 
them or lend them to others to use to 
produce goods. The funds thus used 
are turned into wages, profits, fees, etc. 
These make up the income of the nation. 
Before there can be income, therefore, 
there must be investment. But private 
investment is no longer adequate to ab- 
sorb all of the nation's savings. The 
government, therefore — so these gentle- 
men in Washington argue — must become 
an investor — must borrow what private 
business cannot borrow. To state the 
matter differently, after the war we must 



have a WPA upon a grander scale than 
ever as a permanent part of what is to be 
henceforth known as the Dual Consump- 
tion System. This is a brief outline of 
the basic principle of this new order. 

This must not be confused with certain 
hurried programs of public works to 
cushion the shift from a war to a peace- 
time economy. It means a program of 
government borrowing and spending — 
and hence of debt — upon a colossal and 
continuing scale. Government debt is 
to be used as an instrument for control- 
ling the national economy. The pro- 
posal runs counter to all those "strict 
maxims" of public credit of which Ham- 
ilton spoke. Hence the proponents of 
this new dual system assure us that these 
ancient maxims are the children of ig- 
norance and superstition. "It seems not 
unlikely," says Mr. Rexford Tugwell, 
"that less than a generation will be re- 
quired to kill such a fetish as that of an 
annually balanced budget." 

This program is destined to take form 
as the most discussed subject in our midst 
when the war ends. It may well become 
the major measure of some political 
party. It is being put forward now by 
a group of men of the highest political 
influence in Washington. 

It is well to stress the fact that this plan 
is offered to support the economic life of 
the nation when the war ends. Nothing 
said here, therefore, has any reference to 
the fiscal problems of the war. Obvi- 



THAT POS r-WAK I'l'DI'RAI. hIJil 



181 



oiisly {\\r WAV inusl he siipporlcd even at 
the cost ol dislocating the ccononiic life 
of the country. 1 lowever, since the pub- 
lic credit is to become the central instru- 
ment for making our economic system 
work when the war is over, it is essential 
that we have a clear idea of what the 
public credit will be at that point. 

The President has warned that victory 
will require at least two or three years. 
Others have made less roseate estimates. 
Let us accept, however, the more favor- 
able view. 

The government has committed itself 
thus far to an expenditure of 162 billion 
dollars. It has, however, given notice 
of its intention to ask for another 35 bil- 
lions. Here is a sum already very close 
to 200 billions. We have spent to date 
20 billions of this, leaving 180 billions to 
be laid out. The national debt as I 
write is 76 billions. Up to the present 
we have paid with taxes for only one- 
fourth of what we have spent on the war. 
If we pay with taxes for a third of what is 
to be spent in the next two years we must 
raise 60 billions that way for war alone. 
I see no evidence that anyone contem- 
plates that. But if we borrow only two- 
thirds of the presently contemplated 
sums we shall add another 120 billions 
to the debt — making a total of 196 bil- 
lions. If the war should end by the sum- 
mer of 1944 — in two years — there is no 
reason to suppose that expenditures 
would stop. The heaviest spendings in 
World War I were made in 1919, the 
year following the war. It is, therefore, 
I submit, a fair estimate that we shall 
have a total debt of 200 billions if the 
war should last only two years. This is 
based on the supposition that prices will 
not rise, which no sane man can admit. 
What the debt will be if the war lasts 
three years or more no one can predict. 

We have to keep in mind, therefore, 
that, as we embark on a program of re- 
covery through public borrowing, we 
must begin at a point where the national 
debt will be already at least 200 billion. 
As we set about whipping depression in 
the future we must do so, under the plan 



we are chscussing, by j^ilin^ uioir df-bts 
on U)\) (jf those c onli .ictctd to whij) the 
wars and depressions of the past. 

This debt will require interest. 'Wir 
average rate on our interest-bearing 
bonds now is 2.518 per cent. Wc must 
be optimists indeed if we suppo.sc that 
if we owe 200 billi(jns wJutn the war 
ends we can still borrow money at that 
rate. We must look forward, therefore, 
to an annual interest bill of from five to 
six billion dollars as wc begin the new 
dual system of making the capitalist 
system work by means of public debt. 

IT 

I have said that this more or less offi- 
cially sponsored program of abundance 
through public debt contemplates con- 
tinuous borrowing and spending and a 
limitless rise in the public debt. In 
some of the popular presentations of this 
theory this aspect of the matter is pur- 
posely obscured. At least the impres- 
sion is created that debt is rather to be 
used as a regulator — that in times of 
boom government debt will be reduced, 
while in times of depression the debt will 
be increased. It is fair to say, however, 
that the champions of this program do 
realize the nature of the plan they pre- 
sent in sugar-coated form for popular 
consumption. They admit that the plan 
involves continuous federal debt-making 
over long periods. "The notion," says 
one of them, "that government spending 
can be resorted to only as a temporary 
emergency device must be abandoned. A 
program must be developed which recog- 
nizes the necessity for permanent public 
investment. "^"^ 

At another point the same writer says: 
"We advocate a long-term program of gov- 
ernment investment financed through 
borrowing of savings which w^ould other- 
wise go to waste." Dr. Alvin H. Han- 
sen, of Harvard and the Federal Reserve 
Board, the foremost apostle of this theory, 
says quite frankly that there is little likeli- 
hood "of ever seeing the federal budget 
balanced for any considerable period." 



182 



HARPERS S MAGAZINE 



Along with this goes the twi© proposition 
that government debts need never be 
paid. Most people, we are told, "take 
it for granted that a government debt, 
though internally held, is essentially like 
a personal or business debt and that, in 
just the same manner, it must be repaid. 
This is erroneous." In fact the notion 
of paying government debts is called an 
"outworn superstition." 

As a matter of fact the theory at the 
very base of this program necessarily ex- 
cludes the idea of either a reduction in 
the public debt or a halt in its rise. That 
theory asserts that the present system of 
private enterprise, for reasons carefully 
set out. can no longer absorb the savings 
of the community or produce adequate 
purchasing power. Therefore we must 
have what they call a dual system in 
which the government will become a 
permanent borrower and spender in or- 
der to make up the deficiency in national 
income produced by private business. 
The need for this grows out of a flaw in- 
herent in the present system that cannot 
be corrected, but that must be overcome 
by the government's collaboration in the 
function of producing income or purchas- 
ing power. What we have to look for- 
ward to. therefore, is this: that when the 
war ends and we have a debt of 200 bil- 
lions and an annual interest charge of 
five or six billion dollars, we shall embark 
upon a long-range program of borrowing 
and spending; for continuous deficits and 
for a great rise in the public debt. And 
so we are bound to ask — at what point 
will the limit to this debt be reached? 

Dr. Hansen admits that there is a 
limit. There must be, he says, a reason- 
able ratio between national income and 
debt. If, therefore, we continue to bor- 
row we shall arrive at a level where the 
debt will be quite out of proportion to 
the national income. At that point. 
surely prudent men will say that bor- 
row^ing must cease. But this will not be 
possible. We shall still have the same 
free enterprise system, still incapable of 
producing adequate purchasing power. 
This being so, there will be no course 



open to the government save lo borrow 
once again and still again or face a col- 
lapse. \Vith each successive deficit the 
ratio between national income and debt 
will be still further distorted. At \vhat 
point, then, will the spenders step for- 
ward and cry ''Hold ! Enough !''? \Vhen 
the debt is five hundred billions? A 
thousand billions? But why ask? It 
makes no difference how high the debt 
goes, it must ever go higher. The choice 
will always be — borrow or be damned. 
There is in fact no point at \vhich we can 
stop. 

The size of the public debt is not a mat- 
ter of concern to the social reformers of 
this school because they insist that a pub- 
lic debt is not a burden upon the people. 
The burden, if any. they explain, is the 
annual interest charge. But this is no 
burden because the government collects 
it from the people in the form of taxes and 
pays it back to the people in the form of 
interest on its bonds. There is of course 
no doubt that the funds to pay the inter- 
est are dra\Mi from the people's pockets. 
But certainly the interest payments do 
not go back into the same pockets. The 
notion that the people as a whole, either 
directly or indirectly, hold the govern- 
ment's bonds is without any basis in fact. 

It is not possible in a brief space to ex- 
amine this subject here. A mere facet of 
it, however, may illustrate the point. 
Practically one-half of all the direct obli- 
gations of the government is owned by 
commercial banks and the Federal Re- 
serve banks. It is true that investments 
of commercial banks are made with funds 
belonging to depositors. But the invest- 
ments do not belong to the depositors 
though they represent a security for the 
deposit; and the interest pa\Tnents on 
them do not go to depositors. They go 
to the bank corporation which belongs to 
the stockholders. And there are about 
700,000 bank stockholders in the country 
— or were in 1933. The government 
must each year take enough money in 
taxes from the population to pay interest 
to commercial banks and Reserve banks 
(which belong to the commercial banks) 



THAT POST-WAR FEDERAL DLBl 



183 



on one-half the direct obligations of the 
United States government. 

Great numbers of people have an in- 
terest in the interest payments made to 
insurance companies and savings banks, 
but first of all these hold only about 18 
per cent of government paper and there 
are other factors involved in these invest- 
ments which affect this whole question. 
And moreover there arc tens of millions 
of people who have no interest in either 
insurance or savings bank security hold- 
ings, however widespread these may be. 

The mistake arises out of assuming 
that the national income finds its way 
into a vast reservoir from which the gov- 
ernment ladles out taxes, pouring them 
back again into the same reser\'oir. The 
national income flows in greatly differing 
quantities into innumerable containers 
of differing sizes. The government takes 
amounts of taxes out of all these contain- 
ers and pours them back again in the 
form of interest into some of the contain- 
ers and in amounts quite different from 
those which were extracted. 



Ill 

\Ve now come close to the heart of this 
problem. The point is made that the 
public debt wisely managed can never 
become a burden. It will be no burden 
to pay since it will never be paid. It 
will be no burden to pay the interest be- 
cause a flood of a billion of borrowed 
funds will create several bilhons in na- 
tional income. Certainly, therefore, we 
are told, it will be no hardship on the 
nation to pay out of that, let us say, 30 
million dollars in taxes for interest. 

To see clearly all of the implications of 
this argument it is necessar\^ that we 
pause long enough to have a quick glance 
at the career of a government dollar in 
the field of income. Let us assume that 
the government borrows a doUar to cre- 
ate income and pays that dollar to a 
workman on a project. The workman, 
in spending the dollar, starts it on its way 
to be used in buying goods and ser\-- 
ices, in paying debts. As that dollar 



passes from hand to hand it creates 
additional income at each move, but 
also a little of it is saved here and there; 
here one person saves a few cents of the 
dollar while he has it, there someone 
else does. Finally enough cents have 
been saved along the line to add up to 
one dollar; all the litde driblets of savings 
out of the dollar are sufficient to make a 
dollar that has dropped into the pool of 
savings. Presumably the only way for 
this dollar to get out of the pool will be 
for the government to borrow it again, 
or for someone to loan it to a private 
business or invest it in a private business, 
and thus put it to producing income again. 

Estimates var\* as to how many moves 
such a dollar makes before it has entirely 
disappeared into sa\ings. A high esti- 
mate is that it goes through from ten to 
twenty moves and takes from two to 
four years to do it and that in the 
process it creates from $2 to $5 income. 
That seems a ver\- high estimate, but for 
the sake of clarification let us accept it 
and assume that such a dollar will create 
S2 of income the first year, $1.50 the 
second, $1.00 the third and 50 cents the 
fourth, and nothing the fifth year, or a 
total of S 5 in five years. Of course the 
progress of the doUar back into sa\ings 
does not follow so tidy a panem but a 
change in the figures would not alter the 
Drinciple we can now observe. 

Xo^^• let tis assume the government 
decides to borrow and sj>end a dollar a 
year for five years. The doUar spent 
the first year creates r^vo dollars of in- 
come under our assumption, and by the 
fifth year it has completely ceased to 
produce any such effect. The doUar 
spent the second year will create rvvo 
dollars' income in that year, plus a 
SI. 50 of income created by the first 
dollar, but by the sixth year the second 
doUar wiU have reached the end of its 
income-producing abilirv". This will be 
the life histor>' of each new dollar spent 
in each succeeding year. Therefore it 
is necessar\-, if the government is to get 
any results out of this policy, that it 
continue these infusions each year. 



^VJ?^LlNGAAf£ 



184 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



The following table illustrates what 
will happen over a period of six years, 
on the assumption that in the sixth year 
the spending is stopped: 



Dollar I 

1st year $2 . 00 

2nd year 1 . 50 

3rd year 1 .00 

4th year .50 

5th year 

6th year 

Thus we see that although a new in- 
come dollar each year is poured into 
the economic system, there comes a 
time — the fifth year under the assump- 
tion we have made — when there is no 
longer any increase in income; when, in 
fact, the income levels off despite the 
fact that this new dollar is imported 
into the economic stream each year; 
when, to put it differently, it is neces- 
sary to continue each year the govern- 
ment dollar, not to increase income, but 
to keep it at the level attained. For 
we can see in the table above that if 
spending is stopped in the sixth year the 
income produced will fall to only $3, and 
with each succeeding year will be further 
decreased until it is back at the point 
at which it started. 

Thus we can conclude that, once gov- 
ernment spending is adopted as a means 
of infusing income into the national 
stream of purchasing power, such infu- 
sions must be repeated each year on the 
same scale, but after a given number of 
years the income levels off unless the 
government contributions are increased. 
And if they are ended or decreased the 
general level of income will gradually 
shrink to the point at which the experi- 
ment began. Of course this economic 
force of government borrowing and 
spending, as it makes its way through the 
economic organism, is complicated in its 
impacts and cannot be described in fig- 
ures representing so simple and equal a 
rhythm as those used here. But what- 
ever figures we use, the difference will be 
in the number of moves of the spent dol- 



lar, the amount of income it produces, 
and the number of fractions into which it 
splits as it journeys on; not in the essential 
principles depicted here. 





Income created by 






Dollar II 


Dollar III Dollar IV 


Dollar V 


Total 


— 


— 


— 


— 


$2.00 


$2.00 


— 


— 


— 


3.50 


1.50 


$2.00 


— 


— 


4.50 


1.00 


1.50 


$2.00 


— 


5.00 


.50 


1.00 


1.50 


$2.00 


5.00 





.50 


1.00 


1.50 


3.00 



The soundness of these views is sup- 
ported by our own recent experiment in 
spending. Below I give a table showing 
the increase or decrease in national in- 
come for the years indicated and the in- 
crease or decrease in the national debt: 

Increase Increase 

in debt in income 

Tear (000,000 omitted) 

1930 -$271 -$6,400 

1931 814 -11,395 

1932 3,224 -13,527 

1933 4,159 - 3,774 

1934 8,121 6,273 

1935 5,519 4,108 

1936 4,738 8,255 

1937 2,361 6,111 

1938 - 405 - 5,255 

1939 2,521 3,593 

Up to 1932 national income had been 
shrinking progressively and disastrously 
as private investment dried up. In 1 932 
President Hoover began some spending 
and in 1933 President Roosevelt in- 
creased it and launched a spending pro- 
gram. In 1933 the decline in income 
was checked. In 1934 national income 
rose. It increased each year to 1938 as 
national spending continued. However, 
several facts are obvious from these fig- 
ures. One is that in only one year did 
national income rise twice the amount of 
the debt incurred. Second, the rise in 
income continued as long as the increase 
in spending continued. In 1937 spend- 
ing of borrowed funds was tapered off 
and in 1938 was practically ended. In- 
stantly the national income dropped in 
1 938 by over five billions. The program 
had to be resumed the next year. And 



THAT POSl-WAR lEDLRAL DIJU 



185 



after this ovcnt all notion of any ahanrlon- 
incnt of borrowing and spending de- 
parted from Washington. 

It was at that moment that the theory 
of the permanent deficit was born. It is 
necessary to observe that no accurate de- 
ductions on the relationship between 
debt and income can be drawn from this 
experience. It was directed by men who 
understood literally nothing of the eco- 
nomic theories at its base, and its effect 
was diluted and confused by the objects 
upon which the money was spent as well 
as by some of the counter-irritant tax 
policies. But the experience does serve 
to illustrate certain general aspects of the 
problem as set out here. 

With all this in mind we can see the 
fallacy of the argument that, because the 
new debt creates a great flood of national 
income from which the interest can be 
extracted painlessly, the interest charge 
creates no burden. We can see clearly 
enough that, while the debt produces a 
flow of income for a few years, the interest 
charge remains literally forever. 

Moreover, each year as we pile on 
more debt we pile on more interest. 
And, as each year we continue the debt 
increase, there comes a time when these 
increases will not further increase the 
national income unless we step up the 
debt increases. The income benefit is 
temporary; the interest burden is endur- 
ing and cumulative. The 16 billion dol- 
lars of the First World War debt created 
great streams of income. But those 
streams have vanished. The interest re- 
mains with us. The 28 billions of de- 
pression debt up to 1939 produced a 
heavy flow of income. But it has all dis- 
appeared — while the interest charge lin- 
gers on. The imperious demands of war 
drive us to another 150 billions of debt — 
billions which will enrich the income 
stream for a few years and then cease to 
flow. But the interest will be perpetual. 
When the war ends the interest charge 
will be around five billions. This is 
more than we have ever collected in any 
one year in income taxes in all our his- 
tory until this year. To say that such a 



volume of taxes collrt fd for intrrrst 
alone would not be a inirdcn to govern- 
ment and nation alike is to adopt blind- 
ness as a defense against facts. 

It is a fact that the champions of thi.s 
debt school contemplate government 
deficits of ten billicMis a year when the 
war ends as a permanent program. 
This, indeed, is one of the lower esti- 
mates. As we begin we shall have an 
interest load from the past half as big as 
the borrowing program. Such a tax 
would be deflationary. The authors 
of this plan tell us that reducing the debt 
in the rare event of a runaway boom 
would be deflationary, since it would 
take by taxes portions of the national in- 
come. For the same reason interest 
payments of five billions a year would be 
as deflationary as debt reductions of that 
amount. We should find ourselves in 
the contradictory position of collecting 
deflationary taxes of five billions at the 
very moment that we must make loans 
of ten billions to expand the income. If 
we borrow ten billions a year for ten 
years we shall have a public debt of 300 
billions and an interest charge of seven to 
nine billions. The prospect is terrifying. 

There is no doubt that there must be a 
continuous flow o^ credit into the capitalist 
system. Proponents of the government 
debt school make the mistake of saying 
that there must be a continual expansion 
of debt^ which is quite a diff"erent thing. 
Debt is the consequence of credit. As 
debt expands — public or private — the 
depressive burden on the system in- 
creases. However, it is possible to have 
a continuous flow of credit, which means 
a continuous lending of money. If this 
is a flow of private credit to private bor- 
rowers a considerable percentage of the 
debt thus created can be wiped out each 
year through defaults and losses without 
crippling the system. In fact these losses 
are essential to the system. But unfor- 
tunately government debt cannot be wiped 
out in this way. It must be paid or hang 
on forever until the situation becomes so 
bad and destructive of the whole econ- 
omy that the government is forced to re- 



186 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



sort to the violent process of either infla- 
tion or repudiation. In^l929 the total 
net public and private debt in the United 
States was 172 billion dollars, after a cen- 
tury and a half of development. We 
now face a condition where the govern- 
ment debt alone will presently be greater 
than all the public and private debts of 
the nation at the highest period of its 
prosperity — and this sum will be utterly 
incapable of being paid or extinguished 
by default. 

IV 

However, when these gentlemen insist 
that debt will be no burden for the vari- 
ous reasons examined here they mistake 
the whole nature of the form and inci- 
dence of debt as a government burden. 
It is a misconception to think of debt as a 
burden merely on the nation as such — 
something due by the nation to the na- 
tion. This overlooks completely the 
interposition of the government between 
the citizen taxpayers and the citizen 
bondholders. The load of the debt rests 
primarily on the government. And the 
government is not the nation. The gov- 
ernment is an organism, a recognizable 
entity set up by the people to perform 
certain public functions. Our federal 
government is only one such corporate 
entity. The government has no funds 
with which to meet its interest obliga- 
tions. It must extract such sums from 
the people. But its power to extract 
those sums is limited in a very real man- 
ner. The powers of government return 
in a sense every two years to the people. 
They can refuse to elect representatives 
who continue to squeeze interest taxes 
out of them. The power to borrow is 
not unlimited. The lenders can refuse 
to lend. This is not a totalitarian gov- 
ernment. It cannot coerce, save under 
war powers, either taxpayers or lenders; 
because if it attempts coercion beyond 
the public endurance the public can oust 
the government. Thus a huge debt in- 
volving immense interest charges can af- 
fect gravely the vitality of all the energies 
of government, impairing and even par- 



alyzing them. The debt itself can and 
inevitably will become a problem sur- 
passing in gravity the problems it was 
invoked to cure. 

At the basis of this theory is the as- 
sumption that it is a plan to save the sys- 
tem of private enterprise, but that private 
enterprise needs a partner — a collabora- 
tor in producing purchasing power with 
which the public can buy the consumer 
goods which private enterprise produces. 
It will develop into what they call a 
"dual system" with a private-enterprise 
sector and a public sector. The private- 
enterprise sector will produce practically 
all the goods the nation demands. And 
it will produce from 75 to 80 per cent of 
the purchasing power. The government 
will merely produce whatever additional 
purchasing power is essential to make 
buyers for the products of industry. 
This is a dangerously alluring program. 

But we must keep in mind that the 
private sector is supposed to be the big- 
gest producer of income — the bigger in- 
come pump of the two. Of course there 
is no doubt that setting the government 
pump to work will produce income. 
But this additional government-created 
purchasing power will be of no avail if, 
in producing it, we succeed in crippling 
the private — and bigger — pump; if we 
actually curtail the production of income 
by the more important of the two sectors. 
Yet that is precisely what this plan will 
do. It would be impossible to devise a 
program better adapted to the systematic 
undermining of the private-enterprise 
system and the hastening of the final 
catastrophe than this one. 

Much is said of the ease with which 
the nation, having created a billion or ten 
of income, can dip into that flood and 
remove any amount of it by means of 
taxes. But the incidence of taxes is a 
very serious matter in a private-enter- 
prise economy. In such an economy all 
production depends on continuous in- 
vestment in production equipment. 
And this investment will not occur un- 
less it is profitable. Of course in a form 
of investment that involves very little risk 



THAT POST-WAR FEDERAL DEBT 



187 



n sinnll profit will snrfi('(\ \\\\{ such iii- 
vcsliiuMiL can he oblaincci only in cstah- 
lislu'cl corporations, with a lon^ iiislory 
of wise and profitable management. 
Investment in new industries cannot he 
had unless the r(^turn is large cnougli 
to compcMisalc^ for the risk involved. If 
this dualist pldu is adopted, in a very 
short time this nation will be confronted 
with a tax bill for interest alone so great 
that every man must hand over a consid- 
erable fraction of all he earns to the 
government. 

Take the man with a S20,000 income. 
Let us suppose he has accumulated 
SlOjOOO to build a house or a small plant. 
The interest at 6 per cent will give him 
S600. His income is already $20,000. 
The tax rate on that additional $600 will 
be 45 per cent — based on this year's 
figures. Hence $270 would be extracted 
from the $600 by his partner, Uncle Sam, 
leaving him only $330. The man who 
would lend money on a mortgage at 3.3 
per cent return to himself would be a 
fool. Even the benevolent Uncle Sam 
will not do that. 

If this investor is in the $50,000-a-year 
income class the tax rate will be higher 
— the tax will be $366 and his own share 
will be $234. A $10,000-a-year man 
would do a little better but not enough 
to entice him into such loans. More 
risky enterprises would be literally 
stopped forever by private individuals. 

Adopt this system and we shall never 
see another dollar loaned on mortgages 
by private individuals. And as mort- 
gage money is the very base of the whole 
construction industry — the largest sector 
of investment — that industry would fold 
up. To keep it going the government 
would have to take it over. Sooner or 
later the government would have to take 
over one sector of investment after an- 
other as it withered away under the de- 
bilitating effect of this dual system. The 
private-enterprise pump would grow 
smaller and smaller; the government 
pump would grow larger and larger. 
The system which this plan is offered to 
save would die at first a little slowly, but 



finnlly with a resourKJincr rrash. That is 
all right if the object \)c \,, put an rnfl to 
the capitalist system. Ii is iHjt all right 
if the prescription is sold as a means of 
saving that system. 

V 

The gravely discjui(!ting nature of this 
program, in the presence of dollar figures 
upon a scale so vast as to defy compre- 
hensi(;n, has induced the propf;nents of 
the plan to seek support in some author- 
ity which even the most conservative 
critic might respect. They have there- 
fore gone to the very holy-of-holies of 
conservatism and invoked the imprima- 
tur of no less a saint of sound finance 
than Alexander Hamilton. The great 
Treasury minister, we are told, did not 
fear "the growth of what for his day was 
a huge public debt." He urged, we are 
reminded, "a vigorous use of the public 
credit within appropriate limits, not 
merely for government ends, but also to 
achieve certain economic objects." In- 
deed the statement has been made that 
Hamilton said that "a public debt is a 
public blessing." 

To finance the Revolution the central 
government borrowed from citizens and 
foreign governments. The States also 
incurred large debts. When the new gov- 
ernment was formed under the Constitu- 
tion Hamilton fought for the assumption 
of the revolutionary debt of the rev- 
olutionary government and the assump- 
tion of the debts which the States had 
made for the same purpose. The only 
formidable opposition to these proposals 
was encountered by the plan to have the 
federal government take over the pre- 
Constitution State war debts. Hamil- 
ton favored this because, as the holders 
of the bonds would look to the federal 
government for payment, they would 
have a strong financial interest in sup- 
porting the central government. As- 
sumption and funding of the central 
government's war debt was a matter of 
honor. Hamilton was dealing wdth a 
problem very different from that which 
we are considering to-day. He was fight- 



188 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



ing to fund honor debts already con- 
tracted. The Debtists to-tiay are pro- 
posing a long-range program of fresh 
borrowing while insisting that debts 
once contracted need never be paid or 
reduced. 

In his first report to the House in Jan- 
uary, 1798, after outlining his funding 
plans, Hamilton said: 

'Twill be the truest policy in the United 
States to give all possible energy to public 
credit, by a firm adhesion to its strictest maxims, and 
yet to avoid the ills of excessive employment of 
it, by true economy in the public expenditures, 
by steadily cultivating peace, and by sincere, 
efficient, and persevering endeavors to diminish 
present debts, prevent accumulation of new, and 
encourage the discharge within a reasonable 
period of such as it may be a matter of necessity 
to contract. 

It is interesting to find him adding to 
this sentence the admonition that "it will 
be wise to foster private credit by an ex- 
emplary observance of the principles of 
public credit." On another occasion he 
said that ^^ funding of the public debt is a 
blessing," adding that "it is a quite dif- 
ferent thing from maintaining as a gen- 
eral proposition that a public debt is a 
public blessing." 

Conjuring the ghost of Hamilton to 
support the orgiastic fiscal policy in- 
volved in these proposals is, to say the 
least, surprising in a school of thought 
that seems to look with disdain upon 
what is scornfully referred to as "sound 
finance." The balanced budget has 
come to symbolize the Tory mind. To 
scoff* at it gives to a certain type of social 
reformer a feeling of superiority over the 
bourgeois soul of the business man who 
holds to the Main Street superstition of 
paying bills. 



Certainly a powerful argument can be 
made against the capitalist system of so- 
ciety. It has beyond doubt grave flaws. 
It is a human institution. And these flaws 
must be corrected or the system itself 
must be junked. I can follow the logic of 
the man who says it is too full of flaws 
and ought to be ended. But I cannot 
understand the men who denounce it as 
uncivilized, say it is unworkable, and then 
off'er a collection of remedies to cure it 
which are designed not to save but to kill 
the patient. I do not defend capitalism. 
I do not know whether it can be saved or 
not. I wonder if the capitalist groups 
most interested in its perpetuation will 
ever permit it to be saved. But if it is 
to be saved the remedies must be de- 
signed to work in accordance with the 
genius of the system of private ownership. 

In that system the central idea is 
private ownership working for private 
profit. The dynamic element in it is pri- 
vate investment. Private investment is 
now stalled and has been since 1933. I 
do not believe that it is impossible to re- 
vive the capitalist system and make it 
work far better than it has ever worked 
before, though I do not think it can be 
made to produce "abundance" for 
everyone — nor do I think any other sys- 
tem now known will do this. But the 
central element in the system which must 
be repaired and set to operating again is 
private investment. A group of reforms 
is conceivable that will do this. But 
the one thing that can be counted on, 
not only not to do this, but to kill off" 
private investment finally, is the proposal 
to invoke the dangerous and destructive 
device of government borrowing upon a 
limitless and continuous scale. 




THE MOBBING 



BY J. SAUNDERS REDDING 



The author oj this narrative, a Negro, was sent in 1940 by the University of North Carolina to study 
Southern Negro lije in all its phases. Here he tells of one episode as it was recounted to him. — The Editors. 



IN A little Southern town an incident 
had occurred, and I wanted to find 
out about it. 

Beyond the highway sign that pro- 
claims it a "good place to live," the town 
first clusters round the Confederate me- 
morial square and then sprawls east to 
the bottoms, where the Negroes live in a 
ghetto of mud and frame. I was told that 
in former times the square was a pleasant 
place, with the stores fronting on it, and 
the white townspeople, outnumbered two 
to one by the black, congregating there 
and indulging in pleasantries and argu- 
ing about hunting dogs. They even 
passed some of their raillery with the 
Negroes who in the eVenings and on 
Saturdays lined the curbing on the north 
side of the square. 

But all this was changed when I 
reached the town a few days before the 
national election. The square was brit- 
tle with tension. People went about 
with bowed heads and strained faces. 
There was little business in the square, 
and even the low buildings seemed to 
shrink in on themselves. "All they need 
to do now is hang a crepe," Flap Gonroy 
said. "Yes, sir. A big, black crepe." 

Gonroy said this bitterly in a husky 
whisper from the side of his mouth. He 
leaned over the chest-high partition before 
his cash register and cut his eyes down 
the dim length of the pool room, where 
three men were shooting pool in a frozen 



glare of yellow light. Flap was a short, 
rotund, coffee-brown man, whose trou- 
sers sagged beneath his protuberant belly, 
and whose eyes were like nicked marbles. 
He was a gambler of sorts and he had 
been a ladies' man. His name, Flipflap 
(Flap for short), derived from the peculiar 
action of his lips, the most immense lips I 
had ever seen. His upper teeth were 
entirely of gold, and he jabbed ruthlessly 
at them with a shaved match stick. 

"So they told you I wasn't scared an' 
you come to me?" 

"Well," I said hesitantly. 

"Well, I ain't," he said huskily, as if he 
were angry with me. This I found to be 
his usual manner of speaking. 

"The biggest majority of 'em's scared. 
I seen you goin' to Doc Pogue's, an' 
about five minutes later I seen you leav- 
ing there an' goin' like you was goin' to 
the school, an' I wondered who you was. 
Then a little while ago Scotty Grace 
come in here an' told me you was some 
feller goin' round finding out about 
people. 'Aw, aw,' I said to myself. 'I 
know good an' damn well he ain't goin' 
a find out nothing 'bout them guys.' 
Them fellers think that every stranger 
comes to town is trying to stuff 'em 
some way or another, sticking his nose in 
the mobbing. Well, I ain't scared. It 
takes me to tell you." 

He narrowed his eyes and rested his 
elbows on the partition. 



190 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



I got a stool from against J:he wall and 
placed it at the partition. For almost 
two full days I had met tear, suspicion, 
silence. The townspeople watched me 
with open mistrust. I felt that I was the 
subject of discussion among the whites on 
the square. 

"I ain't scared," Flap said. "Just re- 
member that. I was bred an' born an' 
raised here. My home place is only 
'bout five miles east o' here. The boy I 
rent it to just come in Friday an' handed 
me my compress receipts. I rent it for 
three bales. It's just short of seventy 
acres, but by the time we 'vide up three 
bales ten ways we ain't got nothing. 
Yeah. Nine brothers an' sisters I got. 
But it's our place. That's one reason I 
ain't scared. I know I got some place to 
scram when scramming time comes. 
The high sheriff, Top Zuber, come in 
here this fall an' started hinting round 
'bout the 'lection coming up. But I got 
some place to go. That stuff don't scare 
me. I ain't saying I wouldn't go if the 
turf got too tight; but I got a home place 
to go to. I've lived in the North, I've 
lived in Shy and K.G., but I don't see 
nothing to living in them places. Yeah, 
you can vote. But when you come right 
down to it, what the hell's that? All you 
got to do is ask a nigger who votes if he's 
still working for his living, an' that shows 
'em that voting ain't nothing special. 
Course I'm for voting ! I b'lieve if white 
folks got it niggers ought to git it too. 
This ain't their doggone country exclu- 
sive. But niggers ain't never voted here, 
not even in the President election, an' 
they been doin' 'bout as good, when it 
comes down to bread an' butter, as nig- 
gers most anywheres else. Just the same 
I was with them when they started the 
voting agitation here. I was with 'em 
because we was all colored together an' 
we got to stick together regardless. 

"But now the pecks has got 'em scared, 
an' the closer this 'lection comes the 
scareder they git. Both sides is scared. 
White folks scared the niggers goin' a 
make a break, an' niggers scared white 
folks goin' a think they making a break. 



But I ain't scared, buddy. Anybody 
round here'll tell you Flipflap ain't 
scared o' nothing. 

"Here's how all this stuff started. 

"There was a coupl' a men round here 
started up some kind of lodge. These 
men's names were Benny Speed an' Link 
Cave. I didn't know much what it was 
all about, but I was in it. It was a secret 
lodge. We held meetings secret. Benny 
Speed was president, an' he said we had 
to do that till we got organized right. 
We didn't want the pecks to break us up 
'fore we got started good. We had 
about a hundred members. But we had 
one white-folks' nigger in there — Tilson 
Huett, the school principal. He ain't 
nothing but a snake. Knowed him all 
my life. Knowed his pappy before him, 
an' his pappy was the same. Tilson was 
born an' raised here. Went to school 
here. Been here all his life. He's a 
so-'n'-so snake ! 

"When we got organized good we 
started agitating for voting. We ain't 
never voted here, in no kind a 'lection, 
they tell me, since eighty-four. So five of 
us was picked to go up to the courthouse 
to see about it. They knew we was 
coming. Yeah. Tilson Huett had told 
them. 

"When we went on up they was ready 
for us. Before we could open our mouths 
to say boo Mr. Reid said, 'You men 
might's well save your breath. The 
answer's no. We don't never 'tend to 
let niggers vote in this county. I'll tell 
you boys, 'fore we do that, we'll wade in 
blood.' That's what he told us. 

"We told him we didn't want to vote 
for mayor an' sheriff, just President, an' 
he said colored couldn't even vote for 
that, not in this county. 'Smoke this in 
your pipe,' he said. 'I know niggers. I 
been knowing niggers all my life, an' if 
we give you a inch you want a mile. If 
we let you vote in the President election 
you'd want to vote in every other kind 
election. Well, let me tell you boys 
something: President Roosevelt ain't 
running this county.' 

"There was a gang of men round in his 



THE MOBBING 



191 



oflicc, an' more coinc in. Sucli signifyin' 
you never saw! Top Zuber was one of 
them. He hadn't been long voted high 
sheriff, but he wasn't in yet. Yet an' 
slill h(^ was packing a rod. 1 seen i(. 
I le meant for us to sec it an' git seared. 
Hcnny Speed was doing the talking, an' 
if Top Zuber thought he was scaring liim, 
he iiad another thought coming. Benny 
wasn't built like a gorilla for nothing. 
An' Link Gave, he was a preacher, an' he 
wasn't scared o' nothing but God. Top 
Zuber was trying to put a scare in the 
wrong set o' niggers. 

"Anyway, he puts in his mouth. 
'You-all darkies better git on back to the 
bottom, 'fore you stir up something,' he 
said. He's a slow-talking white man. 
Take him all day to say good morning. 
Right away, soon's he opened his mouth, 
Benny stepped in it. Benny says, 'Mr. 
Zuber, you ain't got a dog in this fight. 
You ain't sheriff yet.' Top said some- 
thing 'bout giving us fair warning, an' 
showed his gun again. Then Mr. Reid 
spoke up an' said he knew what it was all 
about, knew all about the lodge. Yeah! 
Knowed its name better'n I did. 

"'You-all boys has let some dangerous 
Northern nigger come in here an' fill you 
full o' talk,' he says. 'Then he goes on 
'bout his business an' leaves you holding 
the bag. I found out all about it. I 
found out when he come an' when he 
left.' 

"He was talking 'bout Benny Speed's 
boy, little Ben. Little Ben had come 
here from New York on a visit, an' you 
know how they call on home folks in 
church who've been away to say some- 
thing. That's all it was. He gave a 
little inspiration talk in church one Sun- 
day. Don't know what it was, but it 
couldn't been nothing special, 'cause I 
didn't hear nobody talking 'bout it much. 

"Well, we argid back an' forth an hour 
or more, an' when we left we wasn't no 
more scared than we was when we went 
in. In fact, we wasn't as much. We 
knew the ropes when we come out of 
there, an' we didn't know 'em before. 
But we still didn't know what to do. 



Link Cave was all for writing lo the Pres- 
ident. 'He's for ekal rights,' he said. 
'He'll do something about it.' .\n' 
ev(!rybo(ly said first one thing an' then 
another, but nobcxly knowrd what to do 
next. 

"You know, 1 kind a b1i(!ve if that so- 
'n'-so Huett hadn't spilled it, we could of 
got what we went in there for. Took 'cm 
by surprise like, you sec. But there's a 
nigger like him in every bunch. Yeah. 
If you see two niggers walking down the 
street together you can bet your mamma's 
last pair of drawers that one of them runs 
to the crackers with everything. An' the 
white man knows it ! That's what makes 
it bad. He knows that if two niggers 
know something that the white folks ain't 
s'posed to know, he can git it out o' one 
of them. 

"I run this pool room, see? Guys 
come in here right frequent an' want to 
borrow fi' dollars on a suit or a watch, 
anything they can raise some cash on. 
I ain't s'posed to run no pawn business, 
but that's what it comes to. Had a feller 
git fi' dollars on a suit once. I told liim 
if he didn't git it in thirty days, I was 
subject to sell it. Friend o' mine, too. 
Thirty days went by an' he didn't come 
git his suit. I saw Stud one day up on 
the Square, an' I says, 'Stud, what 'bout 
that suit?' ^Aw, I'll git the suit,' he says, 
just like that. 'Bout two weeks later, I 
come here one morning an' he had both 
the laws waiting for me. He had fig- 
gered to git his clothes without paying 
me, so he had went to the law an' told 
them that I was running a pawnshop 
business. But I ain't that dumb. He 
didn't have no tickets. I told the law 
I'd bought the suit off him, an' Pd sell it 
back to him. Sure. I'd sell it back to 
anybody. They didn't do nothing but 
walk right on out o' here. 

"But that's the way one nigger in every 
two will do. Tilson Huett told them 
pecks everything, an' then some ! What 
our plans was, who was officers, where 
we met at, everything. When he joined 
up, that nigger knew what he was going 
to do. 



192 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



II 



"It was Thursday when we went to see 
Mr. Reid. We didn't think nothing 
'bout any trouble or anything. Friday 
my brother, C. A., gave a big barbecue 
for his burial-association members. He 
gives one every year on the church 
grounds. Sometimes we have speaking, 
but this year he didn't have that. Peo- 
ple just circulated 'bout on the grounds, 
eating an' talking. Long in the evening 
a car come right on up in the yard an' 
some white men got out. Well, that 
wasn't nothing to make admiration over. 
White folks come right frequent to look 
at us enjoy ourselves. But then we 
notice that they had been drinking an' 
that Top Zuber was one of 'em. 

"G. A. come running to me, asking me 
what must he do. 'Do?' I said. 'Don't 
do nothing.' 

"'Yeah, but they been drinking,' he 
said. 

" 'Well, that's all right,' I said. 'They 
ain't goin' a do nothing an' we ain't 
goin' a do nothing.' But all the niggers 
had heard 'bout the time we had in Mr. 
Reid's office an' you could see they 
wasn't particular 'bout having these 
pecks around. 

"'You better say something. Flap,' 
G. A. said. It was his barbecue, an' yet 
an' still he wanted me to say something. 
G. A.'s my brother, but he's got a lot o' 
chicken in him. 

"I got up on a table an' told the nig- 
gers there wasn't nothing to git excited 
about. We just had some friendly visi- 
tors. 'Go ahead on an' enjoy your- 
selves,' I told them. Niggers mumbled a 
little bit, but they went on eating, an' 
after while they wasn't paying any 
'tention to the crackers. The pecks was 
standing round their car talking 'mongst 
themselves an' looking." 

"Was Zuber in office as sheriff then?" 
I broke in. 

"No, man! Him an' his little gang 
was just signifying. I didn't figger they 
was fixing to do much else but that, 
'cause if they had they'd a most likely 



brought more men with 'em. There was 
a gang of niggers out there that day. 

"After a while somebody bio wed a 
police whistle, an' when I looked round, 
I saw Top Zuber standing on top of the 
car waving his arms. He was weaving 
up there, he was just that tight, weaving 
an' waving. I sent G. A. one way 
through the crowd an' I went the other, 
telling folks, 'Don't pay no 'tention. No 
matter what he says, don't pay no 'ten- 
tion.' Some few niggers looked at Top, 
but most didn't, but you could tell they 
was straining to listen. I was myself. 
They wanted to hear what he had to say, 
but they didn't want him to know it. 
One o' the crackers round the car blowed 
an' blowed that damn whistle an' the 
niggers still wouldn't look. An' after 
while I saw Top reach down an' git the 
whistle from the guy on the ground an' 
start blowing it himself. We wasn't 
ready to start the fire in the other pit, but 
somebody started it, an' a lot o' niggers 
walked clean across the grounds an' 
crowded round the fire, way away. 
Top kept blowing that whistle. 

"I don't know what he said or if he 
said anything. I was way back in the 
crowd round the pit. I think I saw his 
mouth open, an' then I seen one of the 
crackers on the ground git up on the 
running board an' say something to him, 
an' then Top stopped blowing the whistle 
an' just stood up on the car with his 
hands on his hips looking at all the nig- 
gers an' thinking God knows what. The 
man standing on the running board kept 
talking to him. Then after while old 
Top Zuber jerked his hands off" his hips, 
like he was mad an' disgusted, an' 
climbed down, an' they all got in the car 
an' backed it off" the church grounds an' 
drove away. 

"Seems like soon's the car was gone I 
could hear all the niggers draw one big 
breath at once. Then one old big- 
mouth nigger said something funny 'bout 
crackers going good with Brunswick 
stew, an' those that heard him laughed, 
an' those that didn't hear him kept say- 
ing, 'What'd he say? What'd he say?' 



THE M()Blil\(; 



\')^ 



An' 'fore lon^ nobody lliou^ht nothing 
'boul Top /lihcr no more. 

"Well, I ihonglil that was the end ol ii, 
just like I thouglit the day before was tlie 
end of it. But peeks ean't forgit like we 
can. That's their bigges' trouble. They 
just can't forgit! An' this time they had 
two things to remember. They had the 
five of us going to Mr. Reid's office to re- 
member, an' they had to remember Top 
Zuber standing on top of a car blowing a 
whistle an' trying to say something to a 
gang o' niggers who wasn't paying him 
no mind. I can see how them two 
things would work on the white folks' 
mind. I can see that they would be 
insulted 'bout both things, an' shame too. 
But white folks' shame ain't the same 
thing as niggers' shame. 

Ill 

"Anyhow, the next night was Saddee, 
an' I was home in bed when some jig 
come an' tried to beat my door in. You 
know it had to be late, 'cause I closed up 
here 'bout 'leven, an' then I went to git a 
beer. It was when I was going down 
Jefferson that I seen Doc Pogue hurrying 
toward Jim Covington's house an' I 
thought somebody was sick. I didn't 
know what it was till later. It was hot 
that night too, an' I figgered that that was 
why I didn't do no business. Yet an' 
still, I felt something funny in the air. 
I went on down Jefferson, an' the beer 
parlor was closed, an' that struck me 
funny too. Still I didn't think nothing. 
I went on home. 

"I had been in bed when this jig com- 
menced knocking. I was just dozin' off 
when the knocking come. I didn't git 
up at first. I yelled out, wanting to 
know who it was. 

"'Flap,' this jig says, whispering it an' 
yelling too. 'Flap, a mob come an' got 
Ben Speed an' Link Cave an' some 
more,' he says. I got up on the side of 
the bed, an' my wife, she sat straight up. 

"'Flap!' my wife says. 

"'Shut up, woman,' I said, just like 
that. 'Let me git this straight. What 



llicy niohhcd foi:" I a.sk<-(l thr nigger. 
My winder's ri^hi on thr level with ihr 
p<jr(:h, an' I didn't have to talk loud. I 
don't know why 1 just sat on the side of 
the bed talking like that, 'stead o' gilting 
up an' g(jing to the d(jor. I wasn't 
scared. Just surprised. 

"'Didn't you go up there with them, 
Flap?' the nigger wanted to know. 

'"Go where?' I says. 

"'You know. Mr. Reid's office,' he says. 

'"You mean to tell me that's what 
they mobbing 'em for?' I asked him. 

"'That's what they say,' he says. 

"'Aw, go 'way, nigger,' I said, just like 
that. 'I don't b'lieve you.' 

"'All right,' this jig says. 'Don't say 
you wasn't warned.' 

"I got up then. My wife, she was al- 
ready crying, an' my mother-in-law come 
in the room bringing a lamp. An' she 
started raising hell about the lodge mak- 
ing trouble. Said she knew a thing like 
that wasn't nothing but trouble. It was 
a fair so-'n'-so around there for a while. 
'Course, the first thing I did was gather 
up all the artillery I had. Then we all 
just sat there waiting in the front room 
with the light out, fussin' with each other 
an' waiting. Sat up all night. 

"My wife cried so much she com- 
menced to vomiting, an' after while she 
got 'cross the bed an' fell asleep. She 
whinnied in her sleep all night long, an' 
in between spells of whinnying every- 
thing was quiet. Wasn't a sound in the 
road. Not even a car passed. 

"'Fore day that morning, when my 
wife had fell 'cross the bed 'sleep an' my 
mother-in-law had stopped raising hell, 
I sure wished for something to happen, 
some noise, or something. A coupl' a 
times I thought I heard something, an' I 
sat just as still waitin' for it to come 
again, an' then when it didn't come, not 
hearing nothing was badder than ever. 
Yeah. I wasn't scared. But just setting 
knowing that if I did hear a noise it 
might be them coming to mob me, an' 
wanting to hear a noise so bad that I 
almost didn't give a goddamn, well, that 
was crazy. 



194 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



"Nobody went to church Sunday. 
Niggers stayed off the road an' didn't 
come to town at all. All chat day we sat 
in the house. 'Bout dark, Montrose 
Williams come to our back an' she give us 
the first news. But she didn't know 
nothing much. She had been to work. 
Her white folks had come for her an' 
brought her back, an' all she knowed was 
that the law wasn't letting no niggers in 
town 'less they was with white folks. 
She said her white folks told her that the 
mob wasn't goin' a lynch Ben an' Link, 
just drive 'em out a town. She said 
Benny an' Link was the onlies' two they 
was after. She said her white folks said 
they guess the mob just wanted to make 
a 'xample. She said things was gitting 
back to normal in town again. When 
she went to work that morning, white 
folks was off the street just like colored, 
but when she come back in the evening 
there was some on the street. 

"We lit the lamp that night an' when I 
went to bed I slep' some. 

IV 

"Monday I come on to town as usual. 
I didn't leave the house till nine o'clock, 
an' there was plen'y people on the street. 
Them who had always spoke to me, spoke 
to me, an' nobody looked any different. 

"But when I got here, Paul Whitney, 
the day law, was waiting at the door for 
me. We been knowing each other all 
our lives. But I wasn't dealing no cards 
to no kind a cracker in that damn game 
that morning. Knowing him didn't 
matter a damn to me. He was white. 
That's all I knowed! 

"'Flap,' he says, 'let's go upstairs. I 
got some talk for you. Better lock your 
door. I don't want nobody to come in.' 

" 'Why can't we talk down here, Paul?' 
I asked him. 

"There's a little attic room upstairs 
where I keep stuff I make loans on, but I 
wasn't thinking 'bout that. I was think- 
ing 'bout him trying to play some trick. 

"1 just want it to be secret,' he 
said. 



"T said, 'You don't mind if I take my 
gun, do you?' 

" ' 'Course not, Flap,' he says. 'I swear 
to God, Flap, if it wasn't for me knowing 
you so well, L*d b'lieve you didn't trust 
me.' 

"I didn't say nothing. I come on 
back behind here an' got my gun an' we 
went on upstairs, him walking ahead. 
There was four or five suits hanging up 
there, an' some shoes on the floor, an' 
automobile tars, an' batt'ries, an' a set o' 
suit cases. But he didn't say nothing. 

"'Flap,' he said, 'I got a message for 
you. You knowed they runned some boys 
out a town Saddee night, didn't you?' 

"'I knowed it,' I said. 

"'Well, they didn't do nothing to 'em. 
Just took 'em over the county line an' 
told them to stay out. They wasn't aim- 
ing to hurt 'em.' 

'"Well, I'm glad a that,' I said. 

"I was waiting an' watching. I was 
looking him in the face, but I seen him all 
over. Seem like to me he had shrunk up 
or something, an' I could see all of him 
just by looking in his face. 

"'Yeah,' he says. 'I'm glad as I can 
be. Flap. There ain't no sense in mob- 
bing.' 

"I didn't say nothing. He took his 
stick an' kind a brushed the clothes with 
it. I was looking in his face, but I seen 
him soon's he raised his stick. 

"•'Ben Speed's over in Gibson,' Paul 
said. 

"'Is that where they run him to?' I 
asked him. 

"'That's where he run to after they 
put him out 'cross the line,' he said. 
'They run him out without a goddamn 
thing but his underwear, an' I told him 
I'd come to you an' see wouldn't you go 
to his house an' git him some clothes. 
Then you an' me can take 'em to him.' 

"'Why don't you do it yourself?' I 
asked him. 

"He hit the clothes again, an' then 
kept on hitting them lightly, like he was 
thinking 'bout what I'd asked him. 
Then he said: 

"'I wisht I could, Flap. I wisht I 



THE MOBBING 



195 



could do it without bothering you, 'cause 
I know you don't want no parts of it. 
But s'posc I did go dcjwn to Ben Speed's 
house an' you boys didn't know what I 
was going lor, an' his old woman (hdn't 
gi' me the clotiies 'cause she figgered it 
was some kind a trap, like I b'lieve you're 
thinking maybe this is? Wouldn't his 
old woman talk about that I was trying 
to lay a trap? Then you know what 
would hapj:)cn, Flap, next time I had to 
lock a colored boy up? He wouldn't 
trust me. He'd want to fight, an' then 
I might have to shoot him, like Dawson 
does every time he's got a mind to almost. 
I don't want to hurt nobody. Flap. 

"'S'pose I had to lock up Wally 
Spence? You know what kind a boy he 
is. 'Member that time he got drunk an' 
Dawson come along an' said he was going 
to lock him up, an' Wally said he'd be 
goddamned if Dawson would lay a hand 
on him? 'Member he kep' hollerin' he 
didn't mind going to jail, but the onliest 
white man who could put him in jail was 
me? Heard him yelling an' cussing 
clear over on Main. If you boys hadn't 
been ten to one, Hal Dawson would a 
shot him. S'pose I went on down there, 
like I said, an' maybe tomorrer or next 
day I had to lock Wally up. He wouldn' t 
trust me no more. He might draw a 
knife, an' I might have to shoot him. I 
don't want to hurt nobody. Flap.' 

"All he said 'bout Wally Spence was 
true, 'cause I was there. But I just 
wasn't playing no poker in a game with a 
white man that morning. 

"'But you was with the mob last 
night,' I told him. 

" 'You got me wrong,' he says. 'Didn't 
know nothing 'bout it till I come from 
visiting in the country. It was night 
'fore last. When I heard 'bout it I went 
looking for somebody who was in the 
mobbing, an' he told me Ben Speed was 
put out north, toward Gibson, an' Cave 
was put out west. I found Ben.' 

"I know Paul thought I was doubtful. 
He slipped that crack in there 'bout me 
thinking his wanting to talk to me was 
a trap. But who the hell wouldn't be 



doubtful? I'd kiiowcd him .ill my life, 
an' it was true that he never had hjcat 
nobody up nor shot 'cm. But that morn- 
ing he was just another peck to inc. 

"'How come Ben Speed didn't write 
me no note?' I asked him. 

'"We just didn't think of it, I guess,' 
he said. 

"I studied it a litUe bit longer, an' then 
I told him O.K., I'd git Ben's clothes, an' 
then he asked me to have 'em at three 
o'clock, when he come ofT duty, an' he'd 
come on by here an' git 'em. He asked 
me was I goin' with him when he took 
'em, an' I told him no, but if Ben would 
write me a note, I'd send him some 
money. Then he left. 

"Sure 'nough, I did git a letter from 
Ben asking me to loan his wife some 
money so she could git herself together 
an' git out a town. They went on up to 
somewhere in Maryland. Link Cave's 
church members took up a collection for 
him, an' him an' his wife an' kids moved 
on over to Kentucky somewhcres. Yeah. 

"'Course everybody felt better when 
they found out they hadn't laid their 
hands on 'em to kill 'em. Yet an' still, it 
was bad stuff just the same. 

"Ben an' Link was the onliest ones 
they chased out, but they wasn't the onli- 
est ones that left. A gang o' folks pulled 
up an' went. Scared! But them that 
stayed was on the streets again an' doing 
their work. 'Course, even then the town 
wasn't like it use to be, an' up on the 
Square it w^as like a so-'n'-soin' wake. 
Yeah. An' now it's thataway again. 
An' the closer 'lection comes, the more it 
gits thataway. 'Stead a stretching that 
sign with Roosevelt's picture on it, they 
should of hung a crepe. 



"That next Saddee things was some 
better, but colored folks didn't hang 
round none. Country niggers come to 
town, bought what they had to buy, an' 
got on back out. Didn't hang round till 
dark as usual. I didn't rack up more'n 
two or three games that whole day. 



196 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



There just wasn't no business. I did 
have three or four guys to come in an' git 
their guns. Some of them didn't have 
the money I'd loaned 'exn, but I wasn't 
holding out in no times like them. Sad- 
dee, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, yet an' 
still colored folks went on 'bout their 
business an' white folks went on 'bout 
theirs. Then on that Wednesday night 
they had a prayer meeting at that church 
where Link Cave was the preacher. 

"There was a feller round here name of 
Huett. He wasn't no kin to that so-'n'-so 
Huett that wanted to see your creden- 
tials. Clarence Huett his name was. 
Only way these two Huetts was like each 
other was they went to the same church 
an' they both went reg'lar. Clarence 
Huett was a good boy. I ain't saying it 
to build him up an' make you think what 
happened was worse than it was. Most 
anybody'll tell you Clarence Huett was 
just a good boy. It would of been bad 
enough if it was anybody, without going 
round making it worse by saying it hap- 
pened to some little black Jesus. Clar- 
ence wasn't no Jesus. He was just 
naturally a good, hard-working boy. 

"I wasn't at prayer meeting. I go to 
church Sundays, but through the week 
I'm busy down here an' I can't go. But 
they say it was a warm meeting. You 
know about testimony meeting. That's 
what this was. 

"I wasn't there, but they tell me Clar- 
ence got up an' give testimony. He 
prayed first. I hadn't never knowed him 
to pray in meeting nor give testimony 
neither. But they say he did that night. 
They say he prayed the Lord to send 
down a Moses to set his people free. 
Then he give his testimony, telling how 
he was trying to buy him a home and live 
decent in it; how he'd got to studying that 
if a man like Rev'ren' Cave, who had the 
real grace o' God in him, could git done 
like he was done, then there wasn't no 
sense in him going on like he was going, 
'cause he didn't have a chance. They 
say he preached a reg'lar sermon. 

"There was only one thing wrong with 
that testimony. Tilson Huett was there 



an' heard it. Yeah! But you see, no- 
body knew 'bout him then. That stuff 
hadn't come out in the paper 'bout him 
giving the lodge secrets to the white 
folks. Paper hadn't said nothing much 
'bout the mobbing of Ben an' Link. So 
that night nobody 'spected nothing. 

"You wouldn't want to meet a nicer 
feller than Clarence Huett was. Him 
an' his wife was trying to buy a little 
home right next door to my mother-in- 
law. They both worked in the Snow 
White laundry. He fired over there an' 
his wife ran a presser. They made 'bout 
eighteen a week between 'em. His wife 
had a coupl' a kids 'fore she married 
him, an' the kids lived with them, an' 
Clarence took care o' them kids same as 
if he was their pappy. 

"He was in here that next evening. 
Come in to buy a coupl' a cigarettes. 
He was telling me how he was cutting 
down on his smoking by buying two or 
three cigarettes at a time 'stead of a pack. 
He was telling me how the Snow White 
had bought out the laundry in Haines 
too an' that everybody had to work two 
or three nights a week now an' sometimes 
more. We held a right long conversa- 
tion 'bout diff'ent things. 

"The next time I seen Clarence Huett 
he was a corpse. Yeah. A dead corpse. 

"That same night 'bout ten-thirty, my 
wife says — I wasn't home, but my wife 
an' mother-in-law was setting on the 
porch. Clarence lived right next to us, 
'bout as far as that first table. That 
night a car drove up the road. It was 
loaded with men, but my women folks 
didn't pay no 'tention to that. They 
didn't think nothing 'bout they might be 
white men. That other trouble had 
been over near 'bout three weeks, an' 
nothing hadn't happened to make no- 
body think something else was coming 
up. The women folks didn't know they 
was white men till they seen this me- 
chanic from the laundry git out. They 
seen him then an' they thought he had 
come to git Clarence to go to work. 

"'Tell Clarence to come on out here,' 
my wife heard the peck say. An' Fay- 



THE MOBBING 



197 



della said soincihiiig, an' tlicn the peek 
said, 'Thai's all right. Tell him lo sHj) 
on some pants an' come like he is.' Then 
he went on baek to tlu* car. 

"My women folks seen Clarence walk 
out to the car, an' then all at once he 
stopped right short, an' then got in the 
back scat slow. If he said anything no- 
body heard him. But when he got in 
the back seat Faydella ran out with the 
lamp in her hand an' got there just when 
the car was pulling off, an' either the car 
hit her an' knocked her down or some- 
body in the car reached out an' knocked 
her down, 'cause she fell an' caught on 
fire from the lamp, an' my wife an' 
mother-in-law put the fire out. Faydella 
kept saying, 'Top Zuber was driving. 
Top Zuber was driving,' my wife said. 
My wife said the oil had spilled out the 
broken lamp an' it was burning in little 
flames in a dozen places. 

"The bottom was buzzing when I got 
home. Looked like the niggers was com- 
ing together on this thing. There was a 
gang a them at Clarence's house. But 
they couldn't git straight on nothing. 
Some was of one way of thinking an' 
some was another. Some wanted to go 
out looking for Clarence, an' some said it 
wasn't no use — he'd be all right, they 
wasn't goin' a hurt him. Some argid 
this an' some argid that, an' the outcome 
was that nobody done nothing but set 
there. Wasn't nothing but the niggers 
from right round in that section. I guess 
the folks over in Hoptown section hadn't 
heard about it yet. It was a more quiet 
mobbing then the other. 

"The women an' kids was setting out 
in the kitchen an' us men in the front 
room. Long 'bout two o'clock folks 
started drifting off. You'd hear a man git 
up an' feel his way to the kitchen an' then 
he'd call his wife an' kids, an' you'd know 
that he was going on home. Only me 
an' Scotty Grace an' Ginnie Oxley, an' 
Faydella's brother, Russ, stayed till 
morning. Then I went on 'cross home. 

"Nobody heard nothing 'bout Clar- 
ence an' nobody done nothing 'bout it 
Friday an' Saddee. It wasn't the same 



like it was l)cf(;re, 'cause this time nobody 
figgcrcd they was goin' a lay the weight 
of their hands on him. But by Saddrc 
night something oi the feeling of the first 
moi)l)ing come back, 'cau.sc nobody had 
heard nothing 'bout Clarence. In the 
pool room here fellers was talking 'bout 
it, wondering why nobody hadn't heard. 
It connnence to git on the white folks 
nerves too. It wasn't nothing you ccjuld 
say just what, but it was something. 

'"Bout ten o'clock that night, Paul 
Whitney come in to see me. He had on 
his cop's pants, but not his coat, 'cause 
he was off duty. 

"'Ain't nobody heard from that boy 
yet?' he asked me. 

"'Not to my knowing,' I said. 'Where 
was you this time, Paul?' I asked him, 
sarcastic-like, but kidding him. 

" 'I was here,' he says. 'I didn't know 
nothing about it. From what I hear, 
didn't many folks know nothing about it. 
An' them that was s'posed to be in the 
car, I hear they ain't come back yet.' 

"He was leaning just where you're 
setting, an' his hands was kind a falling 
down on this side of the railing. It was 
a big scar 'cross the back of one of his 
hands that I hadn't never noticed before. 
Then I noticed I hadn't never noticed 
his eyes before nor nothing much about 
him. I'd knowed him all my life an' 
that night was the first time I really seen 
him, an' I seen that all his mush-mouth 
talk was straight talk coming from him. 
Yet an' still, I wasn't satisfied. 

""Scuse me, Paul,' I said, just like 
that. 'But that sounds like some stuff to 
me. That was Thursday night, an' here 
it's almost Sunday morning,' I said. 

"'I don't know. Flap,' he said. Then 
he looked like he was thinking 'bout 
something off yonder somewheres. Then 
he said, like it wasn't no question till the 
end, 'They tell me Top Zuber was in 
that car, Flap?' 

"'Is that so?' I asked him. 

'"Well, ain't nobody seen him since 
Thursday night. He ain't been home. 
His lady friend come over from Coving- 
ton yesterday, an' she ain't seen him.' 



198 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



"'What's it mean, Paul?' I asked him. 

"'Goddamn if I know, Flap. I be 

goddamn if I do,' he said^ just like that. 

VI 

"Sunday morning I was setting up in 
church with my wife an' mother-in-law 
when a usher come an' whispered in my 
ear that I was wanted on the outside. I 
went out 'course, an' there was my 
brother, C. A., an' Paul Whitney. Yeah. 
C. A. said they'd found Clarence's body 
washed up out the river an' Paul had 
come to ask him to take it. What must 
he do? What he said hit me so hard my 
head swum. 

"'Found his corpse in the river!' I 
said, just like that. 'How in the hell did 
it git in the river?' 

"'They must a throwed it in,' C. A. 
said. 'They must a lynched him.' 

"'Yeah,' Paul said. 'They killed 
him. Flap. Goddamn if I b'lieved 
they'd kill that boy.' 

'"Must I git him?' G. A. wanted to 
know. 'I don't want no parts of it, 
Flap. Honest to God ! Must I git him?' 

"'You're the onliest nigger undertaker 
in town, ain't you?' I said. 'You damn 
right you must! Wait a minute. I'll 
go with you.' 

"I went on back in church to tell my 
wife. But I didn't have to tell her 
nothing. Soon's I walked in I seen the 
whole church knowed it. Everybody 
turned round an' looked at me, an' then 
everybody seemed to know. I don't 
know how they found out, but it looked 
like the minute they turned round they 
knowed. When I come back out to go 
with C. A. an' Paul, the whole church 
come out behind me. They all wanted 
to go down to the river, but we wouldn't 
let 'em. 

"When we got down to the river with 
the dead wagon there was a gang o' 
crackers an' the coroner from the county. 
G. A. an' me stayed in the wagon till 
Paul went up an' spoke to the coroner. 
They made the crowd fall back. Then 
the coroner come over an' give G. A. a 



permit to move the body, an' G. A. an' 
me got out the basket. 

"I didn't look at the corpse till we 
got right on it. I looked every place 
but right at it. Then I seen it. The 
boy was laying on his stomick, where 
they had drug him. They had beat him 
bad, and he had been shot in the back 
twice. 

"It was the next day that we all found 
out about Tilson Huett. The paper 
come out this time giving a history of 
both mobbings, an' it told how Huett had 
been to the white folks to try to 'void 
trouble both times, an' how the white 
folks had done, an' how when this second 
trouble started just a few quick-tempered 
men had 'tended to it quiet. They 
called Huett a 'loyal Negro' in the paper. 
Yeah! The crackers said he had most 
likely 'voided more serious trouble." 

When I moved my feet from the rungs 
of the stool pain shot through my stiff 
knees. There was no one in the pool 
room now. Sometime during the long 
telling the men had gone. I did not re- 
member their going. Flap went to the 
back and racked the balls up and spread 
the gray rubberized cloth over the table. 
He turned out the light. When he came 
back again I asked him about Top Zuber. 

"He's high sheriflf now. Yeah. In 
office. Been in office." 

"And where was he from Thursday to 
Sunday?" 

"You mean Tuesday. Didn't nobody 
see him in town till the next Tuesday," 
Flap said. 

"Where'd he been?" 

"You got to ask somebody better' n 
me," Flap said. 

He got down his hat and put on his 
street coat over the pull-over zipper 
sweater. He counted the change in the 
cash drawer and locked the drawer. 
Then he unlocked the cupboard beneath 
the register and took out a short-snouted 
automatic, which he slipped under his belt 
outside his sweater, handy. 

"Other niggers is scared, but I ain't 
scared," Flap said. 




THE SOURCES OF GERMANY'S MlCAVl 

ITOW THE REICH TURNED THE NEW TECHNOLOGY TO WAR I'KCjDl ;cri ION 



BY LEONARD ENGEL 



OF ALL the advantages which Ger- 
many has possessed to date, its 
continued superiority in armament has 
been at once the most obvious and de- 
cisive. In nearly every conflict in which 
the Nazis have been engaged they have 
been better equipped technically than 
their enemies. 

German might has been successfully 
mechanized because Germany is riding 
the crest of a wave of world-wide tech- 
nological revolution comparable in its 
transforming power to the harnessing of 
steam in the eighteenth century and of oil 
and electricity fifty years ago. This rev- 
olution takes its origin in the profusion 
of basic discoveries and inventions since 
the last war, particularly in chemistry 
and metallurgy. The new application 
of science to industry is characterized by 
the use of chemical synthetics on a vast 
scale and the replacement of mechanical 
by chemical processes in manufacturing. 
Every industrial nation of course has felt 
the effects of this "atomic revolution" 
to greater or less extent. In the Reich, 
however, the development and exploita- 
tion of its technics have been carried on 
with unique intensity. 

At the end of the World War the 
heavy industries of Germany found 
themselves in a desperate position. Ev- 
ery belligerent's industries faced difficult 
problems of demobilization, but those 
confronting the Reich's manufacturers 
were compounded by the German de- 



feat. The armament and foreign mar- 
kets on which they had depended to 
achieve capacity operations were gone. 
The Versailles treaty makers permitted 
only one plant, the Rheinische Metall- 
waren und Maschinenfabrik, A.G., to 
manufacture heavy guns, and its output 
was severely restricted. Krupp's great 
gun forges at Essen were silenced, and 
his Germania shipyards, birthplace of 
half the Imperial fleet, were compelled 
to switch from construction of expensive 
men-of-war to less profitable merchant 
ships. The other steel-and-munition 
makers received similar treatment. For- 
eign trade ties, patiently built up during 
the period of German commercial ex- 
pansion before the war, had been severed 
by the British navy, and the tariff walls 
hastily erected after the war by the 
former allies made it impossible to re- 
store them. The domestic market alone 
could not absorb the capacity output of 
heavy industry. 

Several courses are open to business 
firms faced with a situation of this kind. 
They can tailor their operations to fit 
the existing market, relying on reserves 
and direct savings (reduced expenditures 
for raw materials, a smaller working 
force, etc.) to tide them over. They 
may seek to impose wage cuts on those 
who continue in their employ. Labor 
costs may be reduced by introducing 
new labor-saving machinery. On the 
income side of the ledger, business can 
ask for emergency financial assistance 



200 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



from the government. It can also try 
to maintain profits by fixing prices at 
high levels, either by agreement among 
leading firms or under the direction of 
the government. Further, it can call on 
the state to aid in enlarging the market 
more or less permanently by artificial 
means, up to and including armed con- 
quest of neighboring or colonial market 
areas. Finally, business can turn to new 
products as a source of new income. 

In the Germany of 1919 and the early 
'twenties most of these devices were 
either impossible or ineffective. Ger- 
man labor was in no mood to accept 
wage cuts without a struggle. The 
unions were so strong and Germany so 
turbulent that the magnates did not even 
dare to propose wage reductions pub- 
licly. The Weimar Republic was too 
weak to extend substantial financial help 
or to aid in providing a larger market. 
Price fixing is useless when the market 
has all but ceased to exist; in fact it 
tends to limit the market still further. 
Curtailment of operations and living on 
reserves work only for a comparatively 
short period and only in industries with 
low fixed costs. But German industry's 
capital investment — inflated by pre-war 
stock watering and over-expansion — 
was high, as were its fixed costs, and its 
prospect of depression was long. Cur- 
tailed operations could not possibly 
provide returns large enough to meet 
obligations. Circumstances thus forced 
the Reich's manufacturers to seek a solu- 
tion in rationalization of plant, introduc- 
tion of labor-saving machinery, and 
development of new products on a 
grandiose scale — in short, in technolog- 
ical change. For this the organization of 
German industry was especially well 
adapted. 

A characteristic of German economic 
life for more than two generations has 
been the large number of what the 
Germans call Konzerne — vertical com- 
binations possessing their own sources of 
raw materials and active in several more 
or less related fields of industry. To-day 
a few huge firms and systems of this 



type dominate the coal, steel, mechan- 
ical, and chemical industries, and through 
them exercise a powerful influence on 
the German economy in general. The 
Vereinigte Stahlwerke (the Steel Trust), 
for example, produces more than half of 
Germany's steel, and is also active in 
coal mining, in the manufacture of syn- 
thetic gasoline, and in machine build- 
ing. I.G. Farbenindustrie, the dye trust, 
formed by the merger of the five leading 
German chemical firms in 1925, holds a 
pre-eminent position in the fields of syn- 
thetic gasoline, rubber, and organic 
chemicals, is a leading producer of coal 
and light metals, arid also owns Rhein- 
stahl, A.G., a unit of the Steel Trust. 
And so on through the list. 

Several of the biggest and most power- 
ful firms are comparatively recent in 
origin, but some go as far back as the 
1890's. The new combines, in any case, 
were formed from enterprises which were 
Konzerne themselves before amalgama- 
tion. Most of the German contributions 
to and applications of the atomic revolu- 
tion are the work of these vertically in- 
tegrated combinations. 

The Konzerne of course are almost 
ideally suited to the pursuit of tech- 
nological advance. A single example 
will make this clear. Friedrich Krupp, 
A.G., the great armament firm, pro- 
duces its world-famed artillery from steel 
made of its own pig iron in its own con- 
verters. It produces the pig iron in its 
own blast furnaces from ore dug out of 
its own mines (although ore imported 
from Sweden is also used). The lime- 
stone and coke required for the smelting 
process also come from Krupp workings. 
From these same materials Krupp makes 
synthetic gasoline, locomotives, cash reg- 
isters, trucks and busses, and other 
machinery. Krupp steel plates and 
Krupp guns go into warships built by 
the Krupp-owned Germania and Schi- 
chau shipyards. Krupp makes its own 
machine tools and tool alloys and sells 
them as well. 

In a concern such as this, technical 
advance is synonymous with by-product 



rii 



SOLJKCl'S OI' (;iJ<lVfANY'S MK.lli 



201 



utilization- always a trciiu'ndous money- 
maker on the ^rancl scale. Prolits arc! 
enormous and inmu-diale. Mosl of tlu! 
products which are discovered by Krupp 
scientists have an assured market in some 
department of Krupp. Every new al- 
loy foimd by Krupp metallurgists has a 
ready customer — the Krupp machine- 
building department. Every new ma- 
chine invented by a Krupp engineer 
increases the demand for Krupp steel, 
pig iron, coke, and so forth down the 
line. An increase in coke production 
increases the supply of coal tar for the 
manufacture of synthetic fuel and ex- 
plosives. The savings made possible by 
technological advance are concentrated 
under one financial roof and accumulate 
quickly. 

Spurred by the vision of profits which 
would banish the nightmare of post-war 
bankruptcy, the German trusts increased 
their traditionally large investment in 
research, and sent scores of observers 
throughout the world to report on the 
latest scientific and industrial achieve- 
ments in other countries. Spurred by 
the shortage of raw materials, Ger- 
man laboratories worked on substitutes 
with considerable success. The Fischer- 
Tropsch process for making synthetic 
liquid fuels was worked out by 1925; the 
Bergius method — the other widely used 
gasoline-making process — had been dis- 
covered several years before. I.G. 
Farben first ofi'ered Buna rubber com- 
mercially in the United States in 1928. 
Krupp engineers knew how to make a 
long list of tungsten-carbide tools by 
1925. 

In seeking to apply these and other 
processes on a large scale, however, the 
German trusts encountered a series of 
difficulties which they had not altogether 
anticipated. These difficulties derived 
from the nature of the processes and the 
new materials themselves, and from the 
eflfects of the inflation in 1923. Almost 
all the new processes require high tem- 
perature and pressure. High-pressure 
apparatus is expensive. Synthetic-gas- 
oline plants with their pressure cookers. 



lor example, rcfjuirc! an e.xeepiion.illy 
large capital invcslnicul. liul liquid 
capital was scarce in post-inli.iiion (id- 
many. It had (led the Reich {lurin^ the 
devaluati(jn (jr had been wiped out. 

Iw(!n the little cajiil.il that did exist 
was n(;t advanced t(; finance commercial 
application (;f the new procfsses. High 
ternperature-prcssure etinijjinciit can ju.s- 
tify itself only if a large market exists for 
its products. But the materials which 
German scientists created during the 
'twenties were precisely those for which 
a large market was least assured. I'.ar- 
lier chemical synthetics had had a guar- 
anteed sale, for they competed only with 
inferior commodities whose producers 
were weak and scattered. The new 
materials, however, invaded the domain 
of the "great essentials," the domain 
held by great corporations which were 
ready and able to fight on more than 
equal terms to retain their markets. 
Manmade gasoline's competition came 
from a product marketed not by a group 
of remote, unorganized native planters, 
but by rich, pugnacious Royal Dutch 
Shell and Standard Oil. Back of Buna's 
established rival — rubber — stood the po- 
tent British Stevenson cartel. Rubber 
reached $1.21 a pound in 1925, the year 
I.G. built its Buna pilot plant. Had 
Buna been an immediate threat, the 
Stevenson cartel would not have hesi- 
tated to plunge the price of rubber to 1 5 
cents a pound. To sell at that price 
Buna would have had to be made in larger 
quantities than could be sold in Europe 
even if real rubber were non-existent. 
The German trusts thus faced huge ex- 
penditures for equipment and still greater 
outlays (of money they did not possess) 
for the inevitable battle with the natural 
raw material monopolies. 

The trusts therefore sought some 
means of inducing someone else (i.e., the 
government) to advance the needed 
funds, assume whatever losses occurred, 
and reserve the domestic market for the 
new synthetics. The trusts found their 
men in the Nazi party, whose leaders — 
like the younger army officers — under- 



202 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



stood early what a vital role technology 
could play in realizing their dreams of 
world conquest and werr interested espe- 
cially in synthetic substitutes for the 
essential raw materials that Germany 
lacked. 

The application of the new discoveries 
to industry, however, had begun long 
before Hitler's accession. One phase of 
technological advance is re-equipment of 
industry with new machinery many 
times more efficient than the old. Al- 
though capital could not be found for 
erecting the new synthetics factories, 
funds for rationalization of existing in- 
dustries were readily obtained — in Ger- 
many and out, chiefly in the United 
States. More than half of the total 
German industrial plant, worn to the 
point of near-uselessness during the 
World War, was replaced in the late 
'twenties and early 'thirties. The pro- 
ductivity of the German workman rose 
(for industry as a whole) from 90-92 in 
1925 to 123-129 in 1933 (1928 = 100). 

Some industries — such as coal mining 
— made comparatively small gains in 
efficiency, but in others the advances 
were truly remarkable. In the two 
years from 1925 to 1927 alone, the out- 
put per worker in the steel industry 
increased by more than 50 per cent. 
The gains were greater still in the decisive 
machine-building fields, which, by 1935, 
were indisputably the most modernly 
equipped in the world. The success of 
the rationalization program in the metal- 
working industries was made possible in 
part by a revolutionary discovery, tung- 
sten carbide and its related compounds. 
The "hard cemented carbides," as they 
are known, are harder than any known 
substance except diamond and increase 
the efficiency of machining processes by 
as much as 500 per cent. The cemented 
carbides which are worked by the tech- 
nics of powder metallurgy, which I shall 
describe, were one product of the new 
technology which neither competed 
with established monopolies nor required 
a disproportionate capital investment. 
They were thus readily applied. With- 



out them the Nazi armament program 
might have been impossible. 

II 

The trusts did not have to wait long 
after Hitler came to power for the meas- 
ures which would make possible the 
large-scale application of the other basic 
discoveries. Ever since the last war the 
German army had been interested in the 
new technics, and Hitler's war aims in- 
creased the pressure to turn the new 
technics to military account. The Nazi 
Fiihrer became Chancellor January 30, 
1933. Within six months he had begun 
fulfilling his promises to aid the trusts in 
introducing the new synthetics and in 
further rationalizing the heavy indus- 
tries. Besides destroying the unions and 
thus helping the combines to cut wages, 
the National Socialist regime took the 
following measures: 

1. It freed from taxes all investments 
for replacement of old industrial and 
farm machinery (decree of June 1, 1933). 

2. It remitted outstanding taxes when 
new investments were made, and granted 
tax concessions for successful develop- 
ment of new production processes (decree 
of June 15, 1933). 

3. It instituted import controls which 
reserved the domestic market to German- 
created substitutes for raw materials of 
foreign origin. 

4. It placed huge orders and made 
cash advances which guaranteed large 
profits. 

5. It permitted the writing off of in- 
vestments at an accelerated rate. 

6. It compelled companies in related 
industries to pool their capital to launch 
some of the synthetic industries. 

7. It encouraged the cartel machinery 
for pooling patents and technical infor- 
mation as well as for fixing prices. 

These measures do not differ strik- 
ingly from some of the steps the U. S. 
Government has taken in the past three 
years to build up our arms industries, 
except in two respects: first, they were 
applied far more systematically, and 



n.H 



THE SOURCES Ol- GERMANY'S M I G HTlKime^aU^^ 



second, ihcy were iipplicd seven years 
earlier. In Germany they have served 
to strengthen the great Konzerne as well 
as to hasten the appHcation of thr new 
technology. Most striking are [\\v ef- 
fects of the mandatory capital pools. 
When the Reich decided to expand the 
synlhetic-yarn industry, all textile man- 
ufacturers, large or small, were called on 
for funds. The huge ^dlstoff industry 
— built with the money derived from 
such forced contributions — is now di- 
vided into four great groups. Three 
are under the thumb of the trusts, 
although all four were financed in 
part by the smaller textile mills. The 
greatest synthetic-gasoline producer, 
Brabag (Braunkohlen-Benzin, A.G.), was 
launched with capital contributed by the 
ten largest miners of lignite. The Dye 
Trust, the Steel Trust, Wintershall, and 
Flick exercise the dominant influence 
within Brabag, although they are only 
four of the ten contributors; and through 
Brabag's influential position the four 
dominate the industry as a whole. I 
know of only one instance in which a 
great trust was weakened by the expan- 
sion of the new industries. In 1938, the 
Steel Trust was compelled to establish 
Gelsenberg-Benzin, a synthetic-gasoline 
manufacturer, without substantial state 
aid. To raise the needed funds the trust 
had to sell its great Austrian iron and 
steel subsidiary to the Nazi racket, the 
Goering Werke. The sequence of events 
was hardly accidental. 

In addition to such financial schemes 
for spurring the new technology, the 
Nazi government took other steps. By 
far the most important of these was the 
creation of an over-all plan for the recon- 
struction of industry, over and above the 
rationalization previously carried out by 
the trusts themselves. This was the 
Four Year Plan, which is generally de- 
scribed as a program for making Ger- 
many self-sufficient and blockade-proof. 
This description is accurate as far as it 
goes; for freeing the Reich of dependence 
on foreign materials was one of the 
functions of the new technology. Such 



a statement, however, conceals the plan's 
real character. It was basically a pro- 
giain for the supcr-rati(Hializalifjn of 
iiuluslry. 

'i'h(! ('xc(iiti(Hi (jf (he plan was en- 
trusted originally to a special agency, the 
Four Year Plan Office, under Marslial 
Goering. Its functi(jns are now, how- 
ever, being carried (jut in most branches 
of industry by the VVchrwirtschaft fwar 
economy) branch of the army, under 
Major General Georg Thomas. lioth 
the Goering office and the Wehrwirt- 
schaft board use not only financial 
controls, but also specific directives, com- 
pulsory patent and design pools, and 
manipulation of priorities to execute 
their program of technological advance. 

Ill 

What the new technology means can 
best be described by comparing its tech- 
nics with the traditional methods of 
industry. 

Most manufacturing operations in the 
past have consisted essentially of the 
transformation of raw materials into 
finished products by mechanical means, 
with only minor modification of the 
chemical composition of natural sub- 
stances. In any case, preparing the 
material and shaping it have usually been 
sharply differentiated operations which 
were carried out separately. First the 
ore was refined, then the gadget was 
made. Mechanical means of shaping 
predominated: materials were sawed, 
hammered, drilled, planed, and other- 
wise machined more often than they were 
cast or molded. 

The "atomic revolution" changes this 
pattern at virtually every point. It cre- 
ates materials which have no counter- 
part whatever in nature — plastics. It 
creates others which bear only a faint 
resemblance to nature^complex alloys. 
Complicated natural compounds of wide 
use are imitated — synthetic gasoline and 
rubber. The number of mechanical 
operations required to shape an article 
is reduced by greater use of casting, 



204 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



molding, and the technics of powder 
metallurgy. And last a beginning is 
made in breaking down the distinction 
between preparation and shaping of a 
material. 

The application of pressure and heat 
is at the root of all these technics of the 
new industrialism. Most of the new 
synthetics are made by a process known 
as polymerization. In this the molecules 
of a simple chemical compound combine 
with one another to yield complicated 
products which have the same propor- 
tions of the different elements as the 
original compound, but are totally new 
substances. Bakelite, for example, which 
was developed in the United States and 
was one of the first plastics, is polymer- 
ized formaldehyde, a common laboratory 
preservative. The synthetic rubbers are 
also polymers. Polymerization gener- 
ally requires both heat and pressure. 

The same elemental forces make pos- 
sible the elimination of many machine 
operations. The most remarkable heat- 
and-pressure process in metal-working is 
powder metallurgy, the molding of metal 
objects from metallic powder. Shortly 
after 1900, when scientists were casting 
about for a way to work tungsten (whose 
melting point is inconveniently high) 
into electric-light filaments, Dr. W. D. 
Coolidge of the General Electric Com- 
pany in Schenectady found that tungsten 
powder could be pressed into bars and 
that when these bars were sintered 
(roasted) at a fairly low temperature 
they became extremely strong. How 
and why that happens is not yet under- 
stood. But lack of understanding has 
not halted the application of this phe- 
nomenon to molding metal objects from 
powder. A great many objects are so 
made now, including tool tips of tung- 
sten carbide. Carbide-tool stock is made 
by forming bars or slabs from powder 
under high pressure. These are then 
sintered at a low temperature. The 
stock becomes hard enough to avoid 
breakage, but can still be easily worked. 
The shaped tools are then re-sintered at 
800 degrees centigrade, and when they 



emerge from the furnace are harder 
than sapphire and retain that hardness 
even at cherry-red heat. It is imprac- 
tical to make cemented carbide tools by 
mechanical means; powder technics 
must be used. 

Thermo-setting resins — one of the 
many kinds of synthetic plastics — com- 
bine manufacture of the plastic and 
shaping of the article into what amounts 
to a single operation. The raw mate- 
rials are injected into molds under pres- 
sure, and heat is applied. The heat and 
pressure simultaneously make and shape 
the plastic. When the mold is opened 
the article is ready for use save for final 
polishing and finishing. 

The processes of the new technology 
differ from the old in their greater use of 
atomic changes to bring about a desired 
end. Man fiddled with atoms to pro- 
duce materials he wanted long before 
he knew what atoms were, or even that 
they existed. Any chemical process is an 
atomic process, and primitive ore-smelt- 
ing is as much an application of chemis- 
try as the latest synthetic wizardry. 
Never, however, have atomic changes 
been so extensively used as they are 
to-day. The new technology is an 
atomic technology. 

The Reich has gained enormous ad- 
vantages from having been forced to 
apply the new technic systematically and 
on a large scale. For instance a syn- 
thetic-fuel industry of huge proportions 
has been developed. As Franz Neu- 
mann points out in his new book. 
Behemoth, the German panzer divisions 
and Luftwaffe would have been impos- 
sible without synthetic gasoline. Ger- 
many's own oil resources permit a peak 
production of no more than 1,000,000 
tons of gasoline a year. Another 3,000,- 
000 can be extracted by the Nazis from 
the rest of Europe. But the annual re- 
quirements of a war machine so ex- 
tensively mechanized as the German are 
nearly 10,000,000 tons. The output of 
the coal-hydrogenation (gasoline-mak- 
ing) plants must exceed 4,000,000 tons a 
year — no mean achievement, since every 



'I'lii: s(JUR(:i:s oi- (;i:rmany\s mkjij 



205 



gallon of man-made fuel inv()lv(!.s three 
limes as much labor as a gallon (jf the 
gasoline we use. 

Similarly, the new technology has 
provided the Reich with a source of rub- 
ber which cannot be blockaded by 
Allied warships. I.G. Farbenindustrie 
and other German chemical plants are 
manufacturing enough Buna S and 
Perbunan to meet virtually all wartime 
requirements of elastics. Production ex- 
ceeds 100,000 tons a year. We our- 
selves will make much more than that in 
time, but we do not make so much now. 
As a result of the impetus given by Ger- 
many's imperialist dynamism and our 
own needs, synthetic rubber will prob- 
ably compete successfully with natural 
rubber after the war. 

The third field in which the Germans 
have made especially striking progress is 
the manufacture of synthetic plastics and 
fibers. In 1937, the last year for which 
over-all figures can be obtained, the Reich 
had the world's greatest per capita pro- 
duction of plastics despite diversion of 
coal and cellulose (the sources of most 
plastics) to the more essential munition, 
textile, and synthetic-fuel industries. In 
that year the Reich produced 1.5 pounds 
of synthetic resins per person, the U.S.A., 
1.4 pounds and Great Britain, 1.1. Uti- 
lization of man-made fibers (which are 
closely related to the plastics) is more in- 
tensive still. That many of the synthetic 
yarns are not the equals of natural fibers 
such as cotton and silk, and that the 
necessities of war have brought about 
much of the increase in their use is 
irrelevant. It is through just such doors 
as this that new technics frequently 
come. 

Synthetic gasoline and rubber, by 
making it possible for the Reich to 
mechanize its army and create the 
Luftwafi'e, have spurred another innova- 
tion: the use of light metal alloys in place 
of steel for structural purposes. German 
resources of nickel, chromium, and other 
alloying metals without which special- 
ized steels are impossible were not large 
enough to permit unlimited use of steel 



alloys ill .tii( i-.ifi parts, nn'Htary vehicles, 
and all ihc (jther items needed by a 
military nati(jn. Nor arc st<!cl and its 
alloys always desirable from a purely 
technical point of view. A pherujinenal 
(l('vel()pnient of new aluminum, mag- 
n(^sinm, and beryllium alloys conse- 
quently began as soon as Hitler came 
to power. Duralumin, the most widely 
used light alloy, was wc^ll known as long 
ago as the last war; alclad, a corrosion- 
resistant variety of duralumin, and the 
basic magnesium alloys also antedate 
Hitler. But the post-Hitler dcvehjp- 
ment soon left that of other nati(jns 
behind. 

In 1934 German output of aluminum 
was 37,000 metric tons. In the next six 
years it increased more than six times, to 
240,000 metric tons in 1940. Our own 
output also increased enormously in the 
same period— from 33,000 to 187,000 
tons a year — but did not equal Ger- 
many's achievement. The magnesium 
record is more striking still. In 1937 the 
Reich produced 12,000 tons of mag- 
nesium to our 2,000; in 1938, 14,100 to 
our 2,900; in 1939, 16,500 to 3,000; and 
in 1940, 19,000 to 5,700. 

The case of magnesium is particularly 
interesting. The obvious relation be- 
tween Germany's lack of raw materials 
and the growth of her coal-hydrogena- 
tion and Buna industries has enabled 
those who habitually belittle an enemy — 
a criminally dangerous procedure — to 
minimize German technological ad- 
vance. They assert that it is confined 
to the discovery of ersatz materials, 
which are inferior to natural products. 
This is monstrous nonsense, as the his- 
tory of light metals in the Reich shows. 
The growth in the use of aluminum 
was of course due to a shortage both 
of copper and of steel-alloying metals. 
No shortage, however, pushed the mag- 
nesium industry. Magnesium is used 
chiefly in planes and automobiles (in the 
Reich) in place of aluminum. It is used 
because it is lighter and for that reason 
alone. Huge aluminum ore resources 
are within easy German reach; for many 



206 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



years the production of^bauxite on the 
Continent exceeded that in all the rest 
of the world combined. To-day Nazi 
bombers and fighters can carry more 
ammunition and fuel because they have 
engine mounts, propellers, landing-gear 
sleeves, firewall components, and other 
parts made of electron alloys which are 
one-third lighter than duralumin. We 
still use dural or steel exclusively for 
these parts. The need for ersatz has 
certainly been a constant spur to Ger- 
man technical ingenuity, but the inge- 
nuity spills over into other fields. 

IV 

A nation's armed forces are a reflec- 
tion of the technology which sustains 
them. It is no wonder therefore that 
the Wehrmacht has been the world's 
most highly mechanized force and that 
the Reich has devised radically new 
tactical and strategic doctrines which 
match its new army and air force. It 
could hardly have been otherwise. 

If there were space I should like to 
trace the connection between technolog- 
ical advance and weapons, to show how 
a rapidly developing technology creates 
a climate in which men (soldiers in- 
cluded) become alert and receptive to 
new ideas. Space is short, however, and 
the implications which the atomic revo- 
lution has for us are important. 

If we are to defeat Hitler and play a 
leading part in the world of to-morrow 
it is obvious that we must make even bet- 
ter use of the new technology than the 
Germans have done. German experi- 
ence indicates that industry was apt to 
be reluctant to risk capital in the devel- 
opment of such a technology and Ameri- 
can capital in many instances has been 
even less willing, for the good reason 
that many of the natural raw materials 
with which the synthetics compete were 
produced here in abundance. The Nazi 
government solved the dilemma of bash- 
ful or missing capital by putting up 
nearly all the money and permitting the 
trusts to keep nearly all the returns. 



(The widespread belief that most of the 
profits of German industry are taken 
back in the form of taxes is not supported 
by the evidence. Untaxed, undistrib- 
uted corporate surpluses have reached 
astronomical levels in Germany.) Most 
Americans, however, would refuse to 
support a Nazi-like program. 

The alternatives are government sub- 
sidies, with careful control of profits — 
which is nominally our present policy — 
or outright national operation of the 
new industries. Enormous difiiculties 
arise in any program of government sub- 
sidies, as is evident from the reports we 
get of corporations whose facilities have 
been provided at least in part by the 
government and which are making and 
keeping profits which if not exorbitant 
are certainly unusually large. 

Regardless of the method of finance 
employed, we must use all possible means 
to extend the efi'ects of the atomic revolu- 
tion. All technical knowledge must be 
pooled; designs, patents, know-how must 
be freely shared. Our leading manu- 
facturers are already sharing such knowl- 
edge more widely than ever before, but 
not yet widely enough. To a great 
extent, where no patent restrictions ex- 
ist, inertia and a desire to maintain pre- 
war price structures still act as brakes 
on technical advance. Pooling must be 
carried so far that each item of equip- 
ment which we produce incorporates the 
best elements of design in each of its 
features. This can be achieved only by 
creating industry-wide pools of technical 
secrets and processes. 

Something like this has already been 
done in the Reich. The Luftwafi'e, for 
example, is said to be testing a new 
bomber — the Heinkel 177 — which in- 
corporates in one plane distinctive fea- 
tures hitherto found only separately. 
The wings and radiators are of Junkers 
type; its engine arrangement has been 
under test by Heinkel itself for some 
years; its diving brakes, of a type not 
used by Heinkel before, come from the 
United States via Henschel and Junkers; 
and the bombsight layout is borrowed 



THE SOURCES OF GERMANY'S MIGHT 



207 



from Fockc-Wulf. If we knew other 
details of this plane — a giant evidently 
intended for over-ocean and transoceanic 
warfare and still on the secret list — we 
should undoubtedly find that still other 
features had been borrowed. For that 
is how Nazi warplanes are built. Ours 
are not built that way yet, but in many 
instances it will prove desirable that they 
should be. Everything should be done 
to make it possible to pool any features 
which our designers may want to use. 

The Nazi patent pool of course oper- 
ates on a basis which would be politically 
impossible in the United States. Pat- 
ents belonging to the trusts are paid for 
more than handsomely, with the German 
taxpayers' money. But there is no rea- 
son why the same end — pooling of in- 
formation to win the war — cannot be 
achieved in the United States without 
creating a class of patent profiteers. 
The challenge which faces us is far 
greater than any we have confronted 
before. In previous wars our enemies 
were at best our equals in the technology 
of the day. Now, however, they are 
further advanced than we are. The 
viciousness of their society does not min- 



imize their technical achicvcrnrnis; ii 
only makes them more dangcnjus. 

But it is worth our remembering that 
many of the basic discoveries in the new 
technology are the products of American 
genius, and that the atomic revolution 
transformed American as well as Ger- 
man industry to a great extent during the 
past twenty years. Whatever technolog- 
ical lead the Germans had at the start oi 
the war was the result of fundamental 
factors which accelerated their accept- 
ance of new methods — and those factors 
may in the long run prove to be weak- 
nesses. As we have seen, it was partly 
Germany's poverty after the first World 
War which drove industry to rationalize 
its system of production. Shortages of 
raw materials spurred the search for 
substitutes. And perhaps even more im- 
portant, the men who have had authority 
in Germany (the pre-Nazi army, and 
Hitler himself) have for years been aware 
of the military advantages of the new 
technology and have forced its expansion 
for warlike ends. Now that the United 
States is committed to war tliere must 
be and will be no delay in bringing 
about a similar expansion here. 





"DAMN THE TORPEDOES!" 



THE UNSUNG HEROES OF OUR MERCHANT MARINE 



BY HELEN LAWRENSON 



A GROUP of sailors are drinking beer 
at a bar called George's in Green- 
wich Village. The juke box is playing 
"Deep in the Heart of Texas," and ev- 
ery time it stops someone puts another 
nickel in and it starts up again. A 
little man with curly hair and bushy 
eyebrows turns and glares fiercely at it. 

"Can't that machine play nothing 
else?" he roars. He looks tough enough 
and mad enough to eat it, record, 
needle, and all. 

"Stop beating your gums, brother," 
drawls the tall sailor with the black jer- 
sey. "I like it. It's catchy." 

"I just come back from Texas," adds 
a third whose face is a complete pink 
circle, illumined by twinkling blue eyes 
and a cherubic grin. 

"How was it?" 

"Oh, dandy!" says Cherub, sarcas- 
tically. "Just dandy. Fine trip for 
your health. A Nazi tin fish chased us 
for three days. We never seen a patrol 
boat nor a plane the whole time. Saw 
one destroyer going hell-bent for elec- 
tion into Charleston one afternoon about 
dusk, but we all figured she was trying 
to get safe home before dark when the 
subs come out. 

"We was carrying fifty thousand bar- 
rels of Oklahoma crude and fifty thou- 
sand of high-test gasoline. It sure gives 
you a funny feeling. I thought we'd 
get it any minute. Man, those nights 
are killers ! You sleep with your clothes 
on. Well, I don't exactly mean sleep. 



You lie in bed with your clothes on. 
All of a sudden the old engines slow 
down and your heart speeds up. Some- 
one knocks on the door, and you rise 
right up in your bed and seem to lie 
there in the air. So it turns out it's 
only the watch. You settle down again 
and try to light a cigarette if your hand 
don't shake too much. Not that you're 
scared of course. Oh, noooh!" 

The others laugh. "Who ain't 
scared?" growls the little man with the 
bushy brows. "A torpedo connects 
with one of them tankers and it's just 
like lighting a match to cellophane. 
You ain't got a chance. Boom! and 
you're in the hero department. Just 
like that. And the next thing, all the 
guys you used to know are going around 
saying, 'Well, he wasn't such a bad guy 
after all. Poor old Joe Bananas! He 
lowered the boom on me for ten bucks 
the last time he was in port and he never 
did get a chance to pay it back. Let's 
have a beer to his memory.'" 

"Well, let's have a beer anyway," says 
Slim, in the black jersey. "Here, 
Cherub, it's on you. You just got paid 
off. How about springing for another 
round?" 

"Okay," says Cherub. "Might as 
well spend it now. It don't do you no 
good when you're floating around in a 
lifeboat. No kidding, a guy's a sucker 
to go through nights like that. You 
can't believe it. The next morning 
you come out on deck, and the sea's 



"DAMN THE TORPEDOES! 



209 



blue and beautiful and the sun's shining. 
The night before — with the zigzagging 
and the sub alarms and the lying there 
in your bunk, scared stiff and waiting — 
it can't be true. That night can't have 
happened to me. Impossible. This is 
the same sea I've always sailed, the 
same kind of a wagon, the same watch. 
Last night just didn't happen." He 
takes a drink of beer. "But then the 
darkness comes again. Yeah — night 
must fall." 

What worried him most, he adds, was 
a remark made during lifeboat drill 
just before sailing. "We was practicing 
and everything goes ofT pretty good. 
Then the Inspector, he says, 'Now just 
in case any of you fellows have to jump — 
remember when you go over the side to 
pull down on your lifebelt as hard as you 
can. Cause if you don't when you hit 
the water it's liable to break your neck.' 
. . . My God, I thought. Now I got 
to worry about holding on to my papers 
and my chocolate bar and my cigarettes 
and at the same time I got to hold on 
to my lifebelt so my neck don't get 
broke!" 

"So you have your choice," says 
Slim, "burn to death, drown, be blown 
to bits when the torpedo hits the engine 
room, starve to death in a lifeboat, or 
get your neck broke when you first jump 
over the side. Any way you look at it, 
you're a gone sucker. Only a lame- 
brained sailor would go for that. You 
gotta be muscle-bound between the ears 
to do that for a living. And what for?" 

"I'll tell you what for," says Bushy- 
Brows. "If the rising sun and the 
swastika and that bundle of wheat ain't 
gonna be flying over the White House we 
gotta keep 'em sailing. They gotta have 
oil and ore and stuff to fight this war, 
ain't they? And how we gonna get it 
to 'em if guys like us don't keep on 
sailing the ships? So that's what for!" 



II 

This scene is typical of those being 
enacted every night in the waterfront 



bars of ports all over tlir land. Kvrry 
few days you pick uj) thrt papers and 
there is the same gruesome picture 
painted over and over again of sudden 
death that strikes in the night, of seas 
brilhant with burning oil, of men scream- 
ing in agony, dying in the flaming water 
under the dark, implacable! skies. And 
every night, in some bar in every port, 
there will be a group of seamen talking 
it over, naming the names of those who 
were once their shipmates, cursing the 
Axis — what some of them refer to as 
"Hitler, and his saddle-lights Musso- 
lini and Hirohito" — and drinking toasts 
to one another's good luck. 

"I was asleep when the torpedoes hit 
us — " said John Walsh, wiper, survivor 
of the Cities Service tanker. Empire, 
torpedoed off Fort Pierce, Florida 
" — three of them. I rushed up on deck 
and helped get one of the lifeboats over 
the side. I saw our captain on a life 
raft. He and some of the other men 
were on it. The current was sucking 
them into the burning oil around the 
tanker. I last saw the captain going 
into a sheet of orange flame. Some of 
the fellows said he screamed. . . . 
Monroe Reynolds was with me for a 
while. His eyes were burned. He was 
screaming that he was going blind. 
The last time I saw him he jumped into 
the fiery water. That was his finish, I 
guess. . . ." 

In the first four months of this year 
over a hundred American merchant 
ships were attacked by enemy U-boats 
off our own coasts. About 950 seamen 
were killed. Despite improvements in 
the patrol system, the ships are still 
being sunk. The average during April 
was five or six a week. 

It is a hideous way to die. I knew 
two men who were lost when the Pan- 
Massachusetts was sunk. One was a lit- 
tle thin man with spectacles, who had 
been a newspaperman. His name was 
Fred Fitzgerald. The other was Paddy 
Flynn, an oiler, whose two sons had al- 
ready lost their lives in the war. I don't 
know how Fitz and Paddy died. The 



210 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



Pan- Mass carried 100,000 barrels of gas- 
oline, oil, and kerosene. (A barrel is 
53 gallons.) Many of the men burned 
to death as they stood on the deck of the 
ship; others died struggling in the blaz- 
ing sea which was on fire for a mile 
around the tanker. 

"The bo'sun was in charge," said 
George Lamb, survivor of the Pan-Mass. 
"He did everything possible to save the 
lives of all the men. He cut a raft loose 
after the men said they were ready. It 
burst into flames as soon as it hit the 
water. . . J Although I couldn't swim 
I decided to go overboard. I figured it 
was better to drown than to be burned 
alive. I said, 'Let's go, Ingraham.' 
He was the steward. He was standing 
there beside me in his shorts, the skin 
peeling off his back from the flames. 
We shook hands. He said, 'Remem- 
ber me. Red !' I said, 'OK. If I make 
it, I'll remember you. . . .' He was 
burned to death. . . ." 

On his final trip Fitz wrote a letter 
to a man I know. In it he said: "No 
fooling though, it's a queasy feeling to 
be shadowed by those bastards. One of 
them tried to decoy us off* St. Augustine 
by flashing 'P,' which means show your 
lights. The Old Man zigzagged to hell- 
and-gone, and most of us were kidding 
each other about the false alarm when 
the Pan Amoco reported sighting a sub 
at 6 A.M. off* Jupiter. (Our incident had 
occurred at 11:30 the previous night, 60 
miles away.) We quit kidding then." 

He went on to report an incident on 
his previous trip: "Just as the moon was 
going down the second mate happened 
to make the big circle with his binoculars 
and spotted a sub in perfect silhouette. 
The first thing I knew about it was the 
Ordinary on watch giving me the shake. 
'There's a Jerry on our tail,' he said. 
'All hands get dressed with lifebelts and 
stand by.' I got up all right but noth- 
ing happened. Later that day the 
same sub got the India Arrow and the 
China Arrow, just a few miles from where 
we were. What burns you up is no 
guns. You can't fight the bastards 



back. Luckily this crate is fast, so we 
can get going; but on some of them there 
isn't a damn thing you can do except 
call the U-boat commander an old 
meanie — or something! Later it comes 
as something of a jolt to discover that 
fellows you once knew and were ship- 
mates with are gone for good. Worse 
yet, without a fighting chance." 

Hundreds of other American seamen 
have had to stand by and watch enemy 
subs sink their ships from under them 
without guns to fight back. "You can't 
fight submarines with potatoes," as 
Bo'sun Walter Bruce said when rescued 
from the tanker Malay, torpedoed off 
the North Carolina coast. 

The law to arm the merchant marine 
was signed by President Roosevelt on 
November 18, 1941, but most of the 
ships which have been sunk have been 
unarmed. A few which were armed have 
fought off* submarines and either dam- 
aged them or frightened them away. 

Guns are being put on the ships now 
as fast as possible, but some of the ships 
are so old and broken down that a gun is 
almost more of a liability than an asset. 
As one sailor says, "That rust-pot I just 
come off*, they must of got her out of 
the Smithsonian Institute! Sure, we 
had a gun on her. But Holy Mackerel! 
if we'd ever of had to fire it the whole 
ship would have fallen apart." 

At the insistence of the National 
Maritime Union, special fireproof life- 
saving suits have been approved by the 
Maritime Commission and are being 
purchased by all tanker companies. 
On many of the ships new types of life 
rafts are being installed, and lifeboats 
are now being stocked with medical kits, 
food concentrates, and blankets. 

When the Lahaina was sunk, 34 sur- 
vivors spent ten days in a lifeboat with 
a capacity of 17. Two of them became 
half-crazed with hunger and thirst, 
jumped overboard, and were drowned. 
A third lost his mind completely, had to 
be lashed to the bottom of the boat, and 
died the next day. A fourth died 
from exposure. Dan James, nineteen- 



DAMN Til 



()Kim:i)()i:s'' 



211 



year-old wiper, describes tlir death of 
the lasl man: "It was cold the last nii^ht 
out. I was sleeping; under a hlanket 
with Herman. He'd been feelinL( hnv 
for some time. I kept saying to him, 
'Give me some of that blanket.' But he 
woulchri let loose. Finally I grabbed 
it from him. He just lay still. I 
touched his hand . ; '. it was cold . . . 
he was dead the whole time." 

The patrol system is still not ade- 
quate, although vastly improved. In a 
letter to Secretary of the Navy Knox last 
March, President Joseph Curran of the 
National Maritime Union suggested that 
the large fleets of fishing boats, most of 
which are now laid up, be fitted out as 
patrol boats for the iVtlantic coast, as 
was done during the last war. The 
sooner this is done the better. 

There is no doubt about it, the mer- 
chant seamen took it on the chin during 
the first half of this year — with no guns, 
no patrols, antiquated lifebelts, and 
practically no safety precautions. They 
were sent out as helpless targets for the 
subs; but their morale was as magnifi- 
cent as it was unheralded. That pre- 
cautions are now being taken to protect 
them doesn't detract from their courage. 

All the seamen know what they are 
facing when they ship out. Yet they 
keep on sailing. Remember, they don't 
have to. They are in the private mer- 
chant marine, and they can quit any 
time they want to. Most of them could 
get good shore jobs, working in ship- 
yards as riggers and welders and me- 
chanics and what-not, where the chief 
worry would be the danger of someone 
dropping a wrench on their feet. It 
isn't the money that keeps them sailing. 
On the coastwise run, from New York 
to Texas, they get a war bonus which 
works out to around $2.33 a day, hardly 
worth risking your life for. Also the 
bonus doesn't apply to the Gulf. 

As a matter of fact, former seamen 
who have been working in shoreside jobs 
are going back to sea. A few months 



at^o the National .Maritime Union issued 
a call to former seamen. Since then 
over 2,000 ex-sailors have turned up to 
ship out again, hundreds of them at the 
unicHi hall in tlie port of New York alone, 
auKjng them men who have been work- 
ing as furriers, truck drivers, electri- 
cians, ofliee workers, actors, construction 
workers, miners, painters, and bakers. 

Those who have been torpedoed and 
rescued ship right out again as soon as 
they can get out of the hospital. That 
takes plenty of nerve, but the merchant 
seamen have it. They don't get much 
publicity, and you seldom hear anyone 
making speeches about them. They 
don't get free passes to the theater or the 
movies, and no one gives dances for them, 
with pretty young actresses and debu- 
tantes to entertain them. No one ever 
thinks much about their "morale" or 
how to keep it up. It was only recently 
that a bill was passed to give them 
medals. And because they wear no 
uniforms they don't even have the satis- 
faction of having people in the streets 
and subways look at them with respect 
when they go by. 

It is not that the seamen, themselves, 
are asking for any special credit or hon- 
ors. When you mention words like 
heroism or patriotism to them they look 
embarrassed. "Listen, brother, there's 
a war on!" they say. Ashore, they fre- 
quently pretend that they are not brave 
at all. Not long ago I was talking 
to a man called Windy, who had just 
come off the Texas run and had been 
chased by a submarine for three days. 
"No more of that for me!" he said. 
"I tell you, any guy who keeps on ship- 
ping these days has got bubbles in his 
think-tank. The only safe run is from 
St. Louis to Cincinnati. I'm going to 
get me a shore job. Why commit sui- 
cide at my age?" We believ^ed him; 
and not one of us could blame him. 
. . . The next day we heard he had 
shipped out again. He is now on the 
high seas, en route to India. 




THE ARMY'S FUTURE POLITICAL POWER 



BY HAROLD M. FLEMING 



Is IT likely that the Army will take con- 
trol of the country after the war? 
Leaders of our armed forces have, with 
startling suddenness, become the largest 
buyers of goods and services in the United 
States. They are now the largest direct 
handlers of man power in American his- 
tory. They are the largest customers 
American industry has ever had and 
they are spending the biggest sums of 
money ever handled by any group in 
American history. They operate the 
most extensive mechanical equipment 
ever seen in any country except in Ger- 
many and perhaps in Russia; they have a 
hand in operating what will soon be the 
largest merchant shipping fleet in our 
history. 

Only two years ago the Army men 
were fighting Congress for a couple of 
billion dollars a year; now they spend 
that much every twenty days, and the 
appropriations which are expected this 
and next year for their maintenance and 
equipment will run to $150,000,000,000, 
or nearly twice the nation's entire in- 
come in 1929 and five times its 1932 in- 
come. Only three years ago Congress 
argued over Army and Navy appropria- 
tions of a million here and ten millions 
there. It recently passed an appropria- 
tion bill of eighteen billion dollars with 
no more than a momentary hesitation in 
order to keep in mind its nominal control 
over the national purse. 
' All of this spells unprecedented poten- 
tial political power for the armed services 
of the United States. Within the year 
these services will be the employers, di- 



rectly or indirectly, of at least half of 
America's man power. Thereby they 
have acquired also a majority interest in 
the methods by which the whole Ameri- 
can economy is run: in who gets how 
much, in the level of prices, profits, and 
wages, and in who hires, fires, and directs 
labor. The threat of Army or Navy sei- 
zure and operation now hangs over all 
labor and management, since it was ac- 
tually exercised last year by the Navy at 
the Kearney shipyard and by the Army 
at the North American Aviation plant. 
Now there is talk of the Navy's taking 
over our merchant marine. 

The "industrial mobilization plan" of 
the nineteen-twenties and -thirties was a 
recognition by such farsighted persons as 
Bernard M. Baruch that for eff'ective 
war-making the Army and the Navy 
must take a direct hand in the organiza- 
tion and running of the national econ- 
omy. "M-Day" never actually came 
off", but chiefly because the distinction be- 
tween a state of peace and a state of war 
had become progressively blurred from 
1937 on. 

"Beyond a doubt," said Douglas Mac- 
Arthur seven years ago, "any major war 
of the future will see every belligerent 
nation highly organized for the single 
purpose of victory, the attainment of 
which will require integration and in- 
tensification of individual and collec- 
tive effort. Economic and industrial re- 
sources will have to assure the adequacy 
of munition supply and the sustenance of 
the whole civil population. In these 
latter fields the great proportion of the 



nil': ARMY'S FUriJRR POIJilCAI. l'0\\iJ< 



213 



employable poj^ulatioii will (ind its war 
duty." Forcsightcd military men were 
even then taking an interest in matters 
once considered purely civilian, such as 
they had never before taken in peaee- 
time, or even in wartime except during 
the last war. 

If the services took such an interest in 
hitherto civilian affairs in peacetime 
before this war, they will take a vastly 
greater interest in the civilian economy 
after it ends. This time there may be 
no disarmament conferences except those 
called by the victors for the disarmament 
of the vanquished. Continued arma- 
ment for ourselves will not mean simply 
the maintenance of a large standing 
army, but also the maintenance of a 
large degree of supervision over the civil 
economy by the armed services with a 
view to continued preparedness for an- 
other total war. When economic plan- 
ning becomes a peacetime habit it may 
be economic planning for national secu- 
rity under the close supervision of the 
Army and Navy. 

The political wherewithal to support 
this new economic power will not be hard 
to find. By the end of this year the 
Army will have 3,600,000 men and the 
Navy perhaps 500,000, and the totals are 
slated to go on up to 10,000,000 or more 
if the war lasts. This will be a higher 
proportion of the population under arms 
than was ever seen before in American 
history. Those men mean votes, not 
only of the men themselves but of their 
relatives and friends. It will be the big- 
gest pressure group we have ever known. 

After the war a considerable part of 
this Army will be demobilized, but it will 
not cease to be a political pressure group. 
The veterans' vote is one of the oldest of 
all social phenomena, long antedating 
the actual franchise. Only the sociolo- 
gists seem to have overlooked it. The 
armed farmers of Athens drove their hop- 
lite formations through the Persians and 
went home to make new economic gains. 
Over and over again throughout history, 
the members of a victorious army have 
lived on as a pressure group, demanding 



and K'"tti'»^^ advanla^<-.s, benefits, and 
sinecures. M(jre sini|jiy put, U) the vic- 
tors belong the spcjils, at h(jnie as well as 
abroad. It has been so all thnjugh our 
own history; veterans of the Revolution, 
of the War of 1812, and of the Mexican 
War all desired to be looked after. 

The Civil War of course produced the 
G.A.R., one of the biggest pressure 
groups of modern times. For thirty 
years after the war the waving of the 
bloody shirt was deemed indispensable to 
political success; high and low, the mem- 
bers of the Grand Army of the Republic 
got theirs in the shape of pensions, land 
grants, receiverships, and offices from 
that of constable to the Presidency. In- 
deed, the demands of the Civil War 
veterans finally outwore the public 
gratitude, and in the muckraker days the 
popular magazines ran lurid articles 
about pension scandals and the burden 
imposed by those whom "the nation de- 
lights to honor." The Spanish War 
produced a President for us and a pension 
army of its own. The pensioners of the 
First World War were most numerous of 
all and the political influence of the 
American Legion was feared and courted. 
One of the most hopeless of Herbert 
Hoover's political blunders was his ejec- 
tion of the bonus marchers from Ana- 
costia Flats. There is nothing new for us 
about a crowd of veterans looking for 
largesse. Our situation this time, how- 
ever, is different. For the pressure group 
of veterans after this war may be so large 
as to dwarf all other pressure groups. 

The civilian's attraction to Army life 
to-day, for peculiar social and economic 
reasons, is greater perhaps than it has 
been in any other time in our history, 
and is in sharp contrast with the civilian 
feeling toward Army life twenty-five 
years ago. Despite the superficial con- 
trast between twenty-one dollars a month 
in the Army and forty a week in the fac- 
tory, the financial comparison is by no 
means as sharp as it looks. But that 
is a minor factor compared with the 
lure of security to members of a civilian 
world which appears to be falling apart. 



214 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



Twenty-five years ago mert looked upon 
war as a temporary interruption to an 
established way of life which they ex- 
pected to find intact upon their return 
from a purely patriotic interlude. To- 
day there is no such confidence, and the 
soldier has a feehng of being in a socially 
safe berth. A younger generation enters 
the Army feehng that civilian life was 
never secure anyway. An older genera- 
tion of men looks for commissions even 
at financial sacrifice believing that the 
Army is the safest part of the community 
to which to belong during a period of 
bewildering social and economic change. 

II 

Though history repeats itself after ma- 
jor wars in one way, in another it 
changes. Soldiers and veterans exercise 
great power after each major conflict, but 
they use it in different ways. The 
Athenian hoplite farmers wanted relief 
from debt. The English yeoman archers 
wanted currency depreciation and the 
freezing of rents. Grant's veterans 
wanted homesteads and pensions, and 
the veterans of the First World War 
wanted cash subventions. This genera- 
tion of veterans, it already begins to ap- 
pear, will want something else. That 
something will be the future peacetime 
equivalent of the present soldier's wish 
for equality of sacrifice. 

This wish and its outcome were curi- 
ously foreshadowed after the First World 
War. Getting cash relief out of the 
federal government was only a part of the 
organized activities of the veterans of that 
war. The other part was "law and 
order" enforcement. The veterans took 
a conspicuous part in the battles between 
capital and labor in such ways as the 
roughing up of the IWW in the Pacific 
Northwest in the early 'twenties and the 
quiet preparation for strong-arm moves 
which helped bring a halt to the syndi- 
calist sit-down strikes in Detroit in the 
late 'thirties. Somewhat similar feelings 
grow to-day in the breast of the enlisted 
man and the commissioned officer. 



Army men are already speaking their 
minds in this direction. "News of high 
profits," said General Ben Lear recently 
in Detroit, "of strikes, of stoppages of 
production over petty quarrels, bluffing 
and horse-trading, are blows at the bod- 
ies of American soldiers." 

"There has been a good deal said 
about labor," remarked General Brehon 
Somervell a fortnight later. "I'd like to 
say a word about the officials of big com- 
panies who are out playing golf when we 
try to get them on the 'phone. We've 
got to have the same devotion to duty 
from these men as management expects 
from its employees if we are going to put 
this thing over." 

General MacArthur does not stick to 
communiques on traditionally military 
matters. He follows economic develop- 
ments here even from "down under." 
He wires congratulations to men and 
managements of armament plants that 
beat their munition-making schedules. 

And the voice of the enlisted man is be- 
ginning to be heard. He writes to his 
Congressman, or more often his relatives 
and friends do so, reflecting his views. 
He comes into every home through the 
radio script of "This Is War" and is cited 
in the President's fireside speech. Shop 
cartoons remind the factory worker that 
the soldier walks a long way for his 
twenty-one dollars a month. And this is 
only the seventh month of the war. 

Meantime the way of the civilian pres- 
sure group and special interest gets 
harder. "Capital" loses ground as taxes 
cut deeper into the profits and salaries 
which corporation managements them- 
selves fail to limit. Labor leaders have 
lost the right or power to call strikes, and 
the new general price ceiling makes any 
further lifting of wages unlikely except as 
sub-standard scales are lifted in an even- 
ing-up process. Hence labor leaders 
have little in the way of inducement to 
hold their members, and become de- 
pendent on awards of the War Labor 
Board to hold their unions together 
through "maintenance of membership," 
maintenance of dues, union security, and 



THE ARMY'S FUTURE POLITICAL VUWLli 



215 



so on; Price ceilings also jeopardize the 
position of the farm bloc in Clongrrss, 
which faces more determined Adminis- 
tration resistance, defection of farm or- 
ganization support, the conflict of interest 
between grain and dairy farmers, and 
adverse public opinion. 

More and more also, economic ques- 
tions once settled by the push and shove 
of competing legislative blocs are coming 
to be settled by administrative author- 
ity acting on obvious war needs. The 
sugar-quota system was once an annual 
political free-for-all among different pro- 
ducing interests for a share in the sugar 
market; to-day the supply, not the 
market, is subject to quota and along 
lines determined by the Office of Price 
Administration in order to effect the 
greatest economy in transport. Sec- 
tional blocs once struggled over the pork 
barrel of river and harbor improvement, 
power dams, and transmission lines. 
To-day these things are allocated largely 
on strategic and economic patterns, and 
Congressmen must go hat in hand to the 
WPB or the Army and Navy authorities 
on the shrinking hope of wheedling a war 
plant into the home bailiwick. Few 
housing plums remain accessible to po- 
litical pressure; defense housing must 
follow the arms plants regardless of votes. 
This is a one-way trend, and in large 
part it means steadily more power for the 
heads of the armed forces. 

All these things add up to the prob- 
ability of frozen wage scales, horizontal 
price control, rigid profit limitations, and 
rigorous rationing. Such moves may be 
only a beginning. The recent sensa- 
tional letter of William Beveridge to the 
London Times may have meaning for the 
United States as well as for Britain, where 
war economy is further developed, with 
all its wider implications. He called for 
"the principle that service rather than 
personal gain should be the mainspring 
for the war effort in industry as in fight- 
ing." Criticizing the whole "system of 
economic rewards," he said, "If it is true 
that the output of our factories improved 
suddenly when Russia came into the war. 



(his does not mean (lie workers arc stupid, 
preferring Russia l(j their own country. 
It means that in war the most effective 
spur to heroic efforts is an idea, not hope 
of personal gain." 

"lujuality (jf sacrifice" is likely Kj mean 
that the gap between the soldier's twenty- 
one dollars a month and the workman's 
forty dollars a week is due to be narrowed 
in one way or anoth{!r so that their rcral 
wages will be evened up. 'ihe soldier 
may get more money or more payment in 
kind, or the workman may he able to 
buy less because of rationing, pay roll 
allotment, higher prices, or all three. 
Likewise the gap between the pay of 
Army and Navy officers and that of men 
in positions of comparable civilian re- 
sponsibility is likely to narrow. If the 
war lasts long enough it is quite possible 
that, as in Germany, civilian and Army 
living standards may reverse their pres- 
ent relation, with those in the armed 
services getting the best of everything. 

Ill 

With such drastic possibilities in sight 
the position of the Administration may 
be jeopardized. Its rearguard defense 
of economically indefensible positions 
makes it appear to occupy the same posi- 
tion in relation to the war and the public 
mood that the Hoover Administration 
occupied in relation to hard times and the 
public in 1931. Too little and too late 
has been its program on prices, profits, 
wages, taxes, rationing, stock piling, and 
all the other essentials of war economy 
spelled out by Baruch and the Army and 
Navy authorities years ago. The atti- 
tude of both the services and of the public 
is likely to get tougher, and a political 
shake-up in November may be only the 
first omen of the significance of the new 
political force now due to be predominant 
in America. 

The armed services can scarcely exer- 
cise the economic and political power 
they seem likely to achieve without feel- 
ing and showing a heady sense of power. 
This is already beginning to appear, not 



216 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



on the record but in asides and implica- 
tions. "From here on the pubHc and 
the government will have to do what we 
want," is the feeling. Army men have 
stated, though not publicly so far, that 
military control of our newspapers is de- 
sirable. Stubborn under-cover struggles 
between the civilian "defense" authori- 
ties and the Army and Navy have already 
occurred and are likely to increase in 
scope, as the long-standing American 
tradition of ultimate civilian control over 
the Army receives its greatest test in our 
history. 

The structure of military society is 
usually reflected in civil society. Alfred 
Vagt, in his History of Militarism, traces 
for the past two hundred years the close 
connection between the mores of the 
army and those of contemporary civil life 
in Europe. From the perspective of 
1 942 it seems to be a story largely of the 
Colonel Blimps of Europe and Britain in 
the eighteenth and nineteenth century; 
the officer caste of the peacetime army 
was always the custodian of the aristo- 
cratic tradition of conspicuous leisure. 
Now that new equalitarian relations be- 
tween officers and men are being im- 
posed on modern armies by the nature of 
modern ultra-open-order warfare, this 
influence may be reversed in the next era 



of American-patrolled world peace, if 
and when it comes. The social implica- 
tions of this subject take off" in so many 
directions that more questions are raised 
than can possibly be answered. 

Perhaps a type of civilian or a civilian 
group will develop, capable, by reason of 
tough-mindedness, of competing with 
the new post-war military influence. 
But that does not mean that such a rival 
group, a merger perhaps of hard-boiled 
politicians, labor leaders, and indus- 
trialists, might not work closely with the 
Army and Navy authorities. A group 
of this character would have to eschew 
the visible emoluments of power for the 
inner essence. It would be essentially 
fascist in nature, but probably would be 
considered "anti-fascist," confirming Huey 
Long's prediction that if fascism comes it 
will be in the name of anti-fascism. It 
would, however, be essentially radical, 
in the sense that a man is now radical 
who puts the war program ahead of every 
other consideration or tradition. 

Periodic upsets in Washington are al- 
ready weeding out conservatives who 
still cling to other things than further- 
ance of the war and of the armed serv- 
ices' interests. Further similar upsets 
are almost certain, and their significance 
for the future may be great. 





One Man's Meat 

By E. B. WHITE 




THE mail this morning brought my 
occupational questionnaire horn se- 
lective service headquarters. 1 have 
been working on it off and on all day, 
trying to give my country some notion of 
what sort of life I lead — which I take to 
be what it is after. Since my life is clut- 
tered with dozens of pursuits, some of 
which seem wholly unrelated to the 
others, the form has proved hard to fill 
out. Explaining oneself by inserting 
words in little boxes and squares is like 
getting an idea over to a jury when you 
are limited to answering the questions of 
the attorneys. 

I was rather surprised, but not alarmed, 
to discover that "writing" is not recog- 
nized in selective service, either as pro- 
fessional work or as an "occupation." 
Nothing is said in the questionnaire about 
a writer. In the lengthy list of pursuits 
and professions the name of writer does 
not anywhere appear. Scarfers, riggers, 
glass blowers, architects, historians, met- 
allurgists — all are mentioned in the long 
alphabet of American life. But not 
writers. This, I feel, is as it should be, 
and shows that the selective service sys- 
tem is more perceptive than one might 
suppose. Writing is not an occupation 
nor is it a profession. (Bad writing can 
be, and often is, an occupation; but I 
rather agree with the government that 
writing in the pure sense and in noblest 
form is neither an occupation nor a pro- 
fession.) It is more of an affliction, or 
just punishment. It is something that 
raises up on you, as a welt. Or you 
might say that it is a by-product of many 
occupations and professions, which the 
writer pursues (or is pursued by) reck- 
lessly or necessarily. A really pure 
writer is a man like Conrad, who is first 
of all a mariner; or Isadora Duncan, a 



dancer; (;r Ben Franklin, an iiiv<-nlor aud 
statesman; or Hitler, a scaiiijj. The 
intellectual who simply says "1 arn a 
writer," and f(jrth\vith closets himself wiili 
a sharp pencil and a dull Muse, may well 
turn out to be no artist at all but merely 
an ambitious and perhaps misguided 
person. I think the best writing is often 
done by persons who are snatching the 
time from something else— from an occu- 
pation, or from a profession, or from a 
jail term — something which is either 
burning them up, as religion, or love, or 
politics, or which is boring them to tears, 
as prison, or a brokerage house, or an 
advertising firm. A great violinist must 
begin fairly early in life to play the violin; 
but I think a literary artist has a better 
chance of producing something great if 
he spends the first forty years of his life 
doing something else — grinding a lens or 
surveying a wilderness. There are of 
course notable exceptions. Shakespeare 
was one. He was a writing fool, appar- 
ently. And I have often suspected that 
some of his noblest passages were written 
with his tongue at least halfway in his 
cheek. "Boy," you can hear him mut- 
ter, "will that panic 'em!" 

Since I now lead a dual existence — 
half farmer, half literary gent — I found 
difficulty making myself sound like any- 
thing but a flibbertigibbet. The initial 
disappointment at not finding my life's 
work listed among the selected occupa- 
tions, professions, and sciences was greatly 
relieved, however, when after a careful 
study of the list I found, under the "f's": 

Farmer, dairy 

Farmer, other 

I'm not getting a cow tUl next year, but 
it is something in this life to be Farmer 
Other. Not Farmer Brown or Farmer 
White but Farmer Other. I liked the 



218 



HARPER^S MAGAZINE 



name very muchj and immediately wrote 
the words ''4 years'* in front of Farmer 
Other. When I consider that most of 
my neighbors have been carrying pails 
for half a century, four years is a mere 
apprenticeship. I know; but nevertheless, 
it is a beginning, and in the greatest 
occupation of all. 

I imagine that my local draft board, 
like any group of registrars, prefers to 
have lives fall into conventional patterns 
and will no: take kindly to a citizen who 
is so far out of line as to be both farmer 
and writer. It doesn't have a clean-cut 
sound. It is Jekyll and Hyde stuff, lacks 
an honest ring. In war it is better to be 
a clean-cut man: a hammersmith plain, 
a riveter simple, a born upholsterer, 
an inveterate loftsman, a single-hearted 
multi-purpose machine operator. To be 
farmer and writer suggests a fickleness of 
character out of key with the war effort. 
To produce, in a single \veek, seventy 
dozen table eggs and a tsventy-six-hun- 
dred-word article, sounds confused, im- 
mature, and smacks of divided loyalty. 

Question 20 is called ''Duties of Your 
Present Job.'* Three lines are allotted 
for the answer, space for about forty- 
words of crowded confession. I got my- 
self into thirty-seven, by taking thought 
and by following closely the sample 
reply given above, starting 'T clean, 
adjust, and repair watches and clocks. I 
take them apart ... etc.'' I could 
almost have followed the sample exactly, 
changing only a word or two: 'T clean, 
adjust, and repair manuscripts and farm 
machinery. I take them apart and ex- 
amine the parts through an eyepiece to 
find which parts need repair. I repair or 
replace parts. Sometimes I make a new 
part, using a jackplane or an infinitive. 
I clean the parts and put them back 
together again." 

Under job for which you are best 
FITTED I wrote "'Editor and writer." 
Under job for which you are next 
BEST fitted I wrote ^'Poultryman and 
farmer." But I realized that it was not 
so much fitness that I was thinking about 
as returns. What I meant was job by 



which you make the most money. And 
NEXT MOST. It is hard to tell about fit- 
ness. Physically I am better fitted for 
writing than for farming, because farm- 
ing takes great strength and great endur- 
ance. Intellectually I am better fitted 
for farming than for writing. 

* * * 

Walt Whitman should be around to- 
day to see how the boys are regenerating 
his stuff. For a long time I kept wonder- 
ing where I had heard all this singing 
before — the radio programs dramatizing 
America, the propaganda of democracy, 
the music in the President's chats, the 
voices of the poets singing America. 
Then it came to me. It is all straight 
Walt. The radiomatics of Corwin. the 
sound tracks of Lorentz. the prophecies 
of MacLeish and Benet, the strumming 
of Sandburg, the iambics of Anderson 
and Sherwood. Listen the next time 
you have the radio tuned to the theatrics 
of the air — you will hear the voice of old 
Walt shouting from Paumanok. If there 
were any doubt about where he stands in 
the literary ladder this decade has put an 
end to it. He is right at the top. He 
must be good or he wouldn't be heard 
so clearly in the syllables of our con- 
temporaries. 

There is a certain something about this 
sort of writing which is unmistakable: the 
use of place names, the cataloging of 
ideas, the repetition of sounds, the deter- 
mination to be colloquial or bust, the 
celebration of the American theme and 
the American dream, the appreciation of 
the man in the street and the arm round 
the shoulder, the '''song of the throes of 
democracy." You can't miss it when 
you hear it. Sometimes, when one is 
jittery or out of whack, it seems as though 
one heard it too much — so much that it 
loses its effect. But \Valt unquestionably 
started it. He was the one who heard 
America beating on a pan, beating on a 
carpet, beating on an anvil. He heard 
what was coming, and he said the words. 

* * * 

A lot of good could come out of a war 
if we could just nail it down. I am not 



ONE MAiN'S MEAT 



219 



tliinking of the idea of the United Na- 
tions, which I bchcvc to be a good which 
may come out of this war, hut of certain 
small economics or adjustments which 
war brings about. This morning I got a 
letter from an insurance agent containing 
a litde certificate, renewing a policy on 
a car. The letter said that in order to 
save paper for the war effort the insur- 
ance company was asking all its policy- 
holders to accept this little certificate 
instead of a new policy. You simply 
attach it to the old policy, and all it says 
is that the date of expiration is hereby 
advanced one year, to such and such a 
date. I am sure it must be legal and 
binding, or the company wouldn't have 
sent it to me; and what I want to know is, 
if it is legal and binding and if it does save 
paper and simplify matters in general, 
why the devil isn't renewal always man- 
aged that way? Must we save paper 
only in desperate times? What is there 
about peace which causes men to waste 
their resources and their strength and to 
elaborate their ways? And why does a 
business house feel happier if it is making 
a big noise about something, and using 
great quantities of paper and time, than 
when it is doing something easily and 
simply? From now on, in peace as in 
war, I want all policies renewed by the 
issuance of a small certificate, advancing 
the date one year. 

Paid off the mortgage on the farm last 
week, the first time I had ever done any- 
thing like that although I had read about 
it in books. I put on my best clothes for 
the occasion and presented myself at the 
bank, looking like a man of affairs. The 
disguise didn't work very well though. 
While the proper paper was being drawn 
up the president and I chewed the fat and 
after a while I got a little nervous and 
said: "Don't I have to sign something?" 
He looked at me in surprise and then 
smiled indulgently. 

"Sign something?" he repeated. ^^Tou 
don't have to sign anything; we do." 

The bank, it turned out, was very sad 
at losing title to my property and was not 



consoled by all the money I paid thrm. 
They painted their grief .so vividly that 
they had me almost in tears when I left, 
and I felt like an old skinflint as I walked 
down the steps and cjut into the sunshine, 
free and clear. Actually I wouldn't hurt 
a hair of a banker's head and was only 
paying off the mortgage because the gov- 
ernment was instructing people to pay 
their debts. No matter how hard a man 
tries to do the right thing someone is 
always hurt and grieved. 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
Our trading center, where the bank is, 
is quite a distance from lu^me, and now- 
adays, with the tire situation what it is, 
the trip is quite an event. We used to 
go about once a week to this embryonic 
metropolis; now we go about once a 
month — to meet a train, or anaesthetize 
a dog, or pay off a mortgage. Once 
upon a time this litde city looked small to 
me; now it seems a boiling metropolis, 
vast and inscrutable and pleasantly cor- 
rupt. In it you see people in that curi- 
ous larval stage, between country worm 
and city butterfly — the town beginning 
to get in its licks. Clothes are a curious 
compromise of farm and ofhce, of barn 
and salon. The ladies have studied the 
fashions and have gone about the matter 
with a will; but their efforts don't quite 
come off. Men are city from the waist 
down, country from the waist up. Or 
sometimes the other way round. You 
see a man dressed four-fifths for business, 
one-fifth for chores — apportioning his 
apparel as he apportions his time. He 
may have on the trousers, shirt, vest, tie, 
shoes, and socks of a Brummel, but for his 
jacket he has substituted an old zipper 
sweater in a two-tone design. Or he 
may be turned out in the mode, complete 
except for his feet, which are encased 
sensibly in hunting boots. In general, 
the people in small cities of this sort seem 
to lack the homespun and genuinely 
comfortable appearance of the country- 
man, without having achieved the well- 
groomed appearance of the city sHcker. 
It has to be a compromise. One minute 
a clerk will be tending his counter, half 



220 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



an hour later he will be tending his hens. 

There are unmistakable signs which 
always betray embryonic cities and show 
that they have the makings of concentra- 
tion. The presence of pigeons and of 
English sparrows, those unfailing follow- 
ers of the smart metropolitan whirl, is a 
sign. An English sparrow wouldn't be 
found dead in the country, and it seems 
to me pigeons feel about the same way; 
but the minute you get into Main Street 
there they are, enjoying the hot pave- 
ments and the excitement and the con- 
genial vices of congestion and trade. 
The faces you see on the streets have a 
slightly different look too. They are not 
the faces you left back in the country. 
You see a fellow and he has a look in his 
eye, or perhaps it is the way he holds a 
toothpick in his mouth, as though he 
knew a secret. And as you pass along in 
front of the shops you hear the muffled 
sound of distant bowling balls, the tell- 
tale thunder of civilization. 
* * * 

There was an article by Dr. Felix Mor- 
ley in the Saturday Evening Post a while 
back called "For What Are We Fight- 
ing?" (An interesting sentence inciden- 
tally, because if you were to put the 
preposition last, which is where it would 
naturally go in informal usage, the ques- 
tion turns on you and bites you; and so 
you have a writer compelled to decide 
between ambiguity and formality and 
choosing the latter — wisely, I think.) 
Dr. Morley says we are fighting for the 



establishment of certain blocs — an Anglo- 
American Union, a European Union, a 
Russian Union, and a Far-Eastern Union. 
He says what is needed is a "formula of 
regional equipoise." That may be what 
some are fighting for, but not all. It 
seems to me regional equipoise, of a sort, 
is what we have had for centuries and 
what we had better abandon. No poise, 
it turns out, is so delicate as that of a 
region, no equipoise so quick to become 
wwequi. If we are to have federation after 
this war let's have one region, not several. 
That's what I am fighting for, or will be 
when the government puts me to work. 
The trouble with two regions in equipoise 
is that there is always an individual turn- 
ing up who believes that the weight of his 
own body (or mind) is just the weight 
needed to tip the scales in favor of his 
region. And the fight is on. 

Poise, not equipoise, is my goal in this 
stage of history. Federation is the way 
out, but it must be everything or nothing. 
I have no faith in regions any more, but 
only in the United Regions, or Nations. 
There must be a congress of the world, 
and a President of the United Regions. 
After all, although the title sounds rather 
grandiose, the presidency of the world 
would be an office of comparatively little 
power — nothing to be leery of. For if 
the world were made one — which is the 
way the Lord made it — there would be 
nothing left to conquer, and the President 
would have to invent little things to help 
him get through the day. 



1 




The Easy Chair 




COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS 



BY BERNARD DeVOTO 



THE ceremonies we perform to-day 
embody one of the deepest American 
faiths — the faith that to grow in knowl- 
edge is to grow in personality and citizen- 
ship. They have a complex symbolism. 
They formally receive the Class of 1942 
in a continuity which reaches as far back 
as the human spirit has sought to know 
the nature of things. And they formally 
proclaim that the Class of 1942 have 
completed an apprenticeship in learning 
and may now begin the lives for which, 
according to our enduring faith, their 
education has prepared them. 

Twenty-five years ago these same cere- 
monies invoked this same symbolism on 
behalf of the Class of 1917. Then, as 
now, some members of the graduating 
class were already absent when the ritual 
was fulfilled. Then, as now, that ritual 
had an irony hardly to be borne. For 
young men are educated in order to live 
their lives in function, develop what is in 
them, and achieve their expectation. 
Education, if our faith is not merely 
frivolous, is education for peace. And in 
1917, as in 1942, the graduating class 
was called upon to relinquish its prepara- 
tion for peace and assume instead the 
obligation of war. 

I conceive that it is as soldiers you 
should be addressed, and that any mem- 
ber of the Class of 1917 who ventures to 
speak to the Class of 1 942 on Commence- 
ment Day should speak as a soldier. 
What could a man who was a soldier in 
1917 say to his son who is a soldier in 
1942? He would avoid the pitfall of 



rhetoric, he would say no more than he 
has found true in his own experience as a 
veteran of war and also of peace. He 
would try to phrase what the Class of 
1917 found out. 

They went ofi' to war, they prepared 
to fight, some of them fought, some of 
them served without fighting, and the 
war reached its end — or its twenty-five 
years' armistice. When it ended some of 
the class of '17 were dead, some were 
crippled in body or in soul, some were un- 
affected, some were diminished, some in- 
creased. Those who were left took up 
the interrupted expectation. They be- 
gan the completion of their individual 
experience, which has included the be- 
getting of sons and the hope that their 
sons might live out their lives in peace. 

Decent reticences fence off a soldier's 
privacies. He can no more speak of love 
of country than any man can truly find 
words for love of a woman. Yet the in- 
estimable experience is there, and a sol- 
dier has had his moment of dedication. 
It is, in his full consciousness, hardly 
more than a moment — a brief exaltation 
soon crusted over by the human habit of 
being shamefaced about consummate 
emotion and by the routine of war. It is 
remembered only in oblique associations, 
precisely as the privacies of love are re- 
membered. But in that moment the 
soldier has achieved a knowledge other- 
wise altogether beyond his attainment. 
What were mere words have become a 
living truth for him, he has found the 
reality in experience deep in the bitter 



222 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



grief of mankind and knows that the 
function of those who might live for a 
country may also be to die for it and that 
to die for it truly is seemly. . . . That 
moment will overtake you suddenly at 
some point of the path you now start out 
on. In that moment you will seem to 
yourself already dead in your country's 
defense and already fulfilled by dying. 
It will pass swiftly, you will allude to it 
only with a grin or a cheap joke, you will 
deny it many times, it will lie covered 
over with the dreariness and the manifold 
boredoms of soldiering. Nevertheless at 
the depths an immutable change will 
have occurred, for you will have been 
touched by something eternal. 

Other knowledge comes to a soldier. 
It is not that he has looked on the un- 
speakable and survived, or seen the dig- 
nity of the human body made a mere 
blasphemy by wounds and filth and dis- 
memberment, but has nevertheless en- 
dured. He has felt the deepest affirma- 
tion. No man has ever known that 
death must be faced — death in peace or 
in war — without fearing that his fear of 
death would betray the fundamental 
honor of life. For his God has promised 
him, and man's conception of himself has 
promised him, that at the extremity he 
will behave with dignity and fortitude. 
All men fear that fear may break this 
honor. What a soldier learns is that, at 
the extremity, he will rule his fear and do 
whatever it is his part to do. He will see 
it through. So that, whether he lives or 
dies, the knowledge will not fail him that 
when the simplest but most rigorous test 
of manhood was upon him he met it. 

There is also the fellowship of soldiers. 
It may come to you quite suddenly and 
by way of only an eight-man squad 
marching down a road or resting under 
trees. You are suddenly members one 
of another, in daily boredom and labor, 
in the risk of death, in the necessity of the 
nation. You are enlarged in a fraternity 
of things shared, and the awareness wid- 
ens out to the company, the regiment, 
the army, to a knowledge too often 
slurred or denied or scorned in times of 



safety, a knowledge that the Americans 
are members one of another. . . . Dur- 
ing your college years you have seen the 
world break up. And in your senior 
year you have seen the nation form, as it 
always forms in times of danger. You 
have seen the discords lessen, the phan- 
tasms fade, the will harden, and the pur- 
pose take shape. You have felt your 
own doubts go. Some of you, I do not 
doubt, were long troubled by ignorance: 
you thought that you had no faith, that 
America had found for you no belief real 
enough and precious enough to make you 
will to live for it, still less to die for it. 
You have now come to know that it had 
been there all along, too plain to be seen, 
too mighty to be realized. You have 
seen it waken all around you. They say 
that in the Naval Hospital at Pearl Har- 
bor on December 7th a young sailor with 
half his body shot away held out his hand 
to no one in particular, to someone un- 
named and unseen, and said, "We were 
there together." In five months you 
have seen America wake to the knowl- 
edge of a soldier, that we are here to- 
gether. While we meet in a college hall 
other Americans face death in all the 
oceans and continents. A year ago no 
one could have communicated to you the 
fellowship you now feel with the men 
who died and those who lived at Pearl 
Harbor and on the Bataan Peninsula. 

As you go to war some private symbol 
will mean that faith to you. It may be 
one of those names which embody the 
poetry of the American land — Susque- 
hanna, Yemassee, Kaskaskia, Niobrara. 
It may be a glimpse of some familiar 
landscape, the swell of a prairie, the edge 
of a woods, a hayfield or orchard, the 
curve of a highway, some efi'ect of rain or 
cloud or sunlight over your own place. 
It may be the verse of a song, something 
from Stephen Foster, from some idle, 
ephemeral song, or from one of the songs 
sung on this campus last night. It may 
be a memory of some college hour, the 
sun on the lawns, or voices over the ten- 
nis courts, or friends talking together 
after midnight. Whatever it may prove 



'I'lii:: j:asv c:ijaii^ 



M)8LIG LIBRARY 



*> 



''*-^;;ame. Cai«<- 



223 



to be, it will mean America in you. It 
will mean that you were nuiiurctl lo llie 
expectation of peace and that on you also 
has fallen the necessity of war. On you 
also has been put the challenge wiiich 
Abraham liincoln put on other Anieri- 
rans loni; ago, to "nobly save or meanly 
lose the last, best hope of earth." 

A few weeks ago America called on the 
Glass of 1917 to register for the second 
time in universal liability to serve. 
Chance had me registering in a building 
of my own college, one which was erected 
as a memorial to the men of that college 
who died in the Civil War. Our line of 
registrants moved through a long hall 
where names of no meaning to us per- 
sonally are recorded in marble with 
names of places where they died — Bull 
Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Shiloh, 
Ghickamauga, Gettysburg, the Wilder- 
ness. We never knew them, but on them 
as on us had fallen the summons and the 
necessity. And every man who moved 
down that line beside those names could 
remember other men, members of the 
Glass of 1917, who had been our friends 
and who had sat with us in that same 
building during the college years. Their 
names mean nothing to you, but on you 
has fallen the summons and the neces- 
sity. We were all there together. 

I will not speak their names but only 
say that they were my friends. One 
would have been a lawyer in a small, ob- 
scure town. He married a girl in Sep- 
tember, 1917; he was killed at Saint 
Mihiel. He begot no sons, he died, so 
we say, without issue, he never lived to be 
a lawyer. One would have been a 
chemist. He fought the war through, 
was in a number of battles, was wounded 
several times, survived, came home, 
studied chemistry for another year, and 
died. He also begot no sons. One 
served through the war, came home, 
lived according to his light, and died ten 
years ago. Another, a bacteriologist, 
served through the war and came home 
and took up the career that had been 
broken off, and died two years ago. He 
died triumphant, we should say, since 



wh(*n \\r (lied the terror of one disease 
tliai has afllicicd mankind was ended 
forever because he had lived lo do his 
work. 

'i^hat bacteriologist ncjbly hillillcd the 
promise of his gencrati(jn, after honorably 
lighting in its wai". \\r. nianir-d and 
begot ciiiidrcn, worked out as nnu h as 
might be of his expectati(jn, lived fully, 
and when he rounded out his years had 
added to man's knowhrdge and power. 
Therein, we believe, is the implied ccjn- 
tract which life makes with us and which 
is ratified by the college years: that every 
man shall have his chance. It would 
have been sweet and seemly if those 
others had had their chance. If the 
young lawyer had been able to come 
back to his wife, live in his little town, 
beget children, rear them to maturity, 
and round out his years. If the young 
chemist had been able to find his place, 
make his talent fruitful, and marry and 
beget children. But the past five months 
have taught you, as the years have taught 
me, that the phrase which you and I both 
have sometimes mocked is true — that 
their death was sweet and seemly, that 
their life was sweet and seemly in their 
death. They did not die without issue 
or without function. You are their is- 
sue, and their function was not to work 
out their personal promise but to die 
maintaining the continuity in which you 
have lived. 

Now on the Glass of 1 942 has fallen the 
necessity they faced in 1917. Xo old 
soldier would dare in the slightest to 
mitigate for any young soldier the horror 
of what must be faced. Hell is real and 
you must go into hell and run your 
chance. No father can mitigate to him- 
self or to his son the ruth of a young man's 
dying in war. It may be that your name 
will yet be carved in marble when this 
college lists her sons who died in the serv- 
ice of America. Your very dog may 
outlive you, and your father, who sur- 
vived his war, be left to make what he 
can of hearing someone else whistling to 
that dog. All anyone can say is: good 
luck, God give you courage, may you do 



224 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



your parts as men and soldiers. Your 
cause is the last, best hope of earth, and 
in you the American people, all people 
who accept decency and practice freedom 
and believe that mankind has dignity, 
are working out their destiny. More- 
over, in the knowledge you have discov- 
ered in yourselves during the past five 
months exists the certainty of triumph. 
When you felt the common will asserted 
in you, the fixed universe on which our 
enemy has staked his destiny was shat- 
tered. In that moment the underlying 
fear that has besotted the modern world 
was proved unreal; for you knew that the 
spirit of man is truly free and that its con- 
temners, who have staked everything on 
the guess that it was bound, must go 
down defeated. 

Living or dying, you have found your 
function and will have your issue: to do 
the common job, at the summons of your 
country, in the need of your kind. Your 
fathers, the Class of 1917, won their war. 
They lost their peace. I will not say 
that they meanly lost it but they did not 
do all that peace required of them. The 
disease that overspread the earth after 
the last war had many causes. In part 
we were ignorant, in part careless, in part 
weak. We were too timid or too stupid 
to assume for the United States in peace 
the responsibility of power we had as- 
serted for it in war. We were too easily 
discouraged, too easily cynical, too super- 
ficial, too untrue to the knowledge and 
faith we have proved in ourselves. We 
were too Utopian, we asked too much of 
fallible men and so were too readily dis- 
heartened. Twenty-five years ago it 
was in our power to advance more than a 
little the solutions of the unsolved prob- 



lems of giving order to the societies of the 
world. We failed, and so the disease 
spread, hope died, and you have g/own 
up in an era abandoned to despair. You 
have the knowledge that we failed. But 
you have the knowledge that your gener- 
ation, though it faces the result of our 
failure, also faces the possibility of repair- 
ing it. 

So the summons has now fallen on you. 
You will win your war. You have a 
chance to win your peace. 

There is no certainty that you will win 
it. With death and life, as with steel 
and explosives, men may either build or 
destroy. But if it is true, and it is true, 
that in my generation hope went out of 
the world, it is true that in your genera- 
tion hope has come back to the world. 
If when you have ceased fighting you do 
not deal more successfully than your 
fathers with the problems of giving order 
to the societies of the world, then indeed 
the world will be more full of sorrow than 
anyone can understand and your sons 
will grow up to unmitigated and absolute 
despair. But before your eyes the wild 
and inconceivable has happened, the 
thing itself. Meaning has come back to 
men's effort and men's desire. When 
you recognized the will in yourselves, de- 
terminism was refuted and the monstrous 
nightmare of our time was broken. In 
you the world of free men again has a 
chance to bring itself to be. There is no 
more than a chance, a fighting chance. 
But need you, or the lives fulfilled in you, 
ask for more than a fighting chance? 
You have a chance to win the fight your 
predecessors lost. In the inexorable 
working out of man's fate, that has come 
to be the meaning of your lives. 



For information concerning the contributors in this issue, 
see PERSONAL AND OTHERWISE on the following pages 



VOL. 185, N(J. 11U7 




AUGUST 1942 



rJi^ 



Harpers 

Qmaaazine 



THE RUSSIAN ENIGMA 

AN INTERPRETATION 
BY WILLIAM HENRY CHAMBERLIN 



THE word enigma has been horribly 
overworked in connection with So- 
viet Russia. Yet it expresses quite accu- 
rately a current American mood of 
bewilderment and uncertainty about that 
country. A prominent writer on the 
Far East, confessedly puzzled by her con- 
tradictory reactions to' what she has 
heard of the Soviet regime, pleads for a 
book that will build a bridge of under- 
standing between the United States and 
the Soviet Union. From letters and 
from conversations I get the impression 
that many Americans are deeply anxious 
to obtain a picture of Russia that makes 
sense. There is a general feeling of hav- 
ing been oversold or undersold, of wish- 
ing to fit together the pieces of a difficult 
jigsaw puzzle. 

How has Russia, where oppression has 
supposedly been so ruthless, been able 
to offer such steadfast resistance to the 
German military machine? What is the 
key to Stalin's foreign policy? What will 
the Soviet Union be after the war — a 



bulwark of collective security or a new 
threat to the democratic way of life? 
What has the Russian Revolution, which 
will celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary 
on November 7, 1942, achieved in terms 
of living standards and popular psychol- 
ogy and political and economic institu- 
tions? Russia'sconspicuousroleinthewar 
during the past year as clearly the strong- 
est land power in the anti-Hitler coalition 
has lent a new urgency to these questions. 
Before attempting to suggest the an- 
swers it may be worth while to review 
briefly the various phases of American 
public opinion about the Soviet Union. 
In the first years after the Russian Revo- 
lution the Soviet regime invariably pro- 
vided one of the most animated subjects 
of discussion at the meetings of the For- 
eign Policy Association. Whatever in- 
formation the speakers at these meetings 
might ofTer, there was always the pros- 
pect of a rousing fight. By the time the 
question period was reached two clear-cut 
groups had formed, a Left minority made 



Cops'right, 1942, by Harper k. Brothers. All Rights Reserved. 



226 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



up of what H. L. Mencken once called 
Grand Street Platos, vehemently pro- 
Soviet, and a Right minority consisting 
of prosperous-looking Americans and of 
variegated Russian emigres, who might 
and usually did disagree among them- 
selves, but who cordially disliked the Bol- 
sheviks. Before the meeting was over 
these two groups would be screaming af- 
firmations, denials, and insults at each 
other, while the majority of the audience 
looked on in perplexity and the harassed 
chairman hoped that he could terminate 
the proceedings without calling in the 
police. 

Right here was an illustration of one 
characteristic that has balked our under- 
standing of Russia. Our attitude has 
been surcharged with emotionalism, with 
"pro" and "anti" fixations. Polemical 
argument has been at a premium, rea- 
sonable analysis at a discount. 

As is natural in a country with a mid- 
dle-class conception of civilization, the 
"antis" would have outnumbered the 
"pros" on a Gallup poll. What the 
latter lacked in numbers, however, they 
made up in enthusiasm and disciplined 
energy. 

During the 'twenties Russia, for the 
average American, was little more than 
a large hole in the map. The early pas- 
sion on the subject gave way, for the most 
part, to a bored indifference. In refus- 
ing to accord diplomatic recognition to 
the Soviet Government the State De- 
partment was reflecting a very general 
public attitude. 

When the Soviet Five Year Plan coin- 
cided with the Great American Depres- 
sion Soviet stock took a sharp upward 
bound, at least among radical and liberal 
intellectuals. Russia became the only 
country in the world with Hope and a 
Plan. Foreign observers in Moscow who 
returned with stories of hunger and all- 
pervading espionage and mass execu- 
tions were frowned on as counter-revo- 
lutionaries. 

Middle-class disapprobation of the So- 
viet Union was not overcome. But there 
was an amazing amount of articulate un- 



critical pro-Sovietism among Americans 
with Leftist sympathies who did not hold 
cards of membership in the Communist 
Party. The first breach in this phalanx 
occurred when the purge of the Com- 
munist Party set in and many famous old 
revolutionaries, such as Zinoviev, Kame- 
nev, Rykov, Bukharin, and Pyatakov, 
were shot. 

What had been a trickle of critical de- 
fection became a torrent after Stalin 
signed his pact with Hitler in August, 
1 939, and launched his attack on Finland 
later in the year. Soviet prestige was 
then at its lowest ebb. Many fellow- 
travelers wrathfully or regretfully quit 
the Soviet bus. The impression gained 
ground that Stalin's regime was not only 
sanguinary and unprincipled, but weak 
and inefficient. 

Then came the German attack on June 
22, 1941. Americans had been con- 
ditioned to expect a speedy Soviet col- 
lapse. As Soviet resistance was pro- 
longed, as positive victories were won 
last December and January and some 
lost territory was retaken, there was an- 
other violent swing in the pendulum of 
public opinion. A former American 
Ambassador to Russia rushed out with a 
pen picture of Stalin as a man infinitely 
wise, infinitely kind, on whose lap a child 
would sit, while a dog would sidle up to 
him. A favorable word about Russia 
had gained little hearing during the in- 
terval between the Stalin-Hitler Pact 
and the invasion of Russia; now any 
criticism of the Soviet regime, however 
well-documented, however moderately 
phrased, was denounced, and not only 
in Communist quarters, as an insidious 
form of fifth or sixth columnism. 

But the enigma remains, with its chal- 
lenge to every thoughtful observer. 
Throughout all the oscillations of public 
opinion there has been continuity in Rus- 
sia. Stalin has remained the same man. 
The Russians have remained the same 
people. The Stalin who killed his old 
revolutionary associates and signed the 
Pact with Hitler has proved a coura- 
geous, clear-sighted, astute, tenacious 



rm: russi w lmcjma 



227 



leader of his armies and his people in 
Russia's greatest ordeal since the Tar- 
tar Conquest. The Soviet regime that 
starved its rcralcitrant peasants and 
decimated its pre-revolutionary intelli- 
gentsia has been able to command the 
last proof of devotion from the millions 
of its citizens who have perished in the 
struggle. 

The professional friends of the Soviet 
Union have been quick to interpret the 
Russian resistance as a blanket refutation 
of all unfavorable testimony about Soviet 
political and economic and social condi- 
tions. The professional "antis," some 
of whom had climbed out on the limb 
of rash prophecies of early and certain 
downfall of the Soviet regime, were as 
confused by the new turn of events as the 
"pros'' were when they received the 
news of the Stalin-Hitler Pact. 

But the Soviet military showing, im- 
pressive as it has been, is by no means a 
miracle if viewed in the light of ascer- 
tainable facts about Russia's population 
and resources and military preparedness. 
We shall never advance very far toward 
a realistic appraisal of the Soviet Union 
if we do not firmly and resolutely put 
aside the amiable American fallacy that 
moral excellence is the prerequisite of 
material success. Because our ow^n back- 
ground has been democratic, because 
we have never experienced the blood- 
baths of countries with traditions of 
absolutism and unlimited violence, we 
cannot bring ourselves to realize that 
an authoritarian government can employ 
extremely cruel methods in suppressing 
dissidents and still inspire a good deal of 
enthusiasm and loyalty on the part of 
the mass of its citizens. An enlargement 
of historical knowledge and perspective 
is required. 

II 

Take the example of Russia in 1812. 
Most of the Russian people at that time 
were serfs. And the worst thing that 
the severest critic of the Soviet Union 
could say is that some of its more drastic 
edicts, tying the worker to his factory 



and the peasant to h\% collective farm, 
are reminiscent of serfdom. Yet Na- 
poleon found no fifth column in Rujisia. 
He encountered the fiercest resistance 
not only from the regular Russian ar- 
mies, but also from the peasant serfs, 
who took up pitchforks and hunting 
rifles, organized guerrilla bands and 
hunted down parties of stragglers. Hit- 
ler, like Napoleon, has come into con- 
flict with something deeper and more 
enduring than the Tzarist or the Soviet 
political system — with the attachment of 
Russian people to Russian land. 

Equally instructive in understanding 
the compatibility of determined fighting 
morale with a good deal of cruelty and 
arbitrariness in the Soviet administrative 
system is the example of Nazi Germany. 
It would be absurdly one-sided to at- 
tribute the courage and enthusiasm 
which German troops have shown when 
they stormed Crete in parachutes and 
maneuvered tanks in the blazing desert 
of Libya merely to the terrorism of the 
Gestapo. No one would seriously sug- 
gest that German military accomplish- 
ments disprove the obscene cruelties of 
Dachau and Sonnenberg or Hitler's 
purge of 1934. In the same way the 
stubborn courage of the Russian troops 
in the present war in no way affects the 
historicity of the "liquidation of the ku- 
laks as a class" or other manifestations of 
Soviet ruthlessness. 

There are several reasons for the un- 
expectedly powerful Soviet resistance. 
The Soviet Union began large-scale war 
preparation in 1931, when over half the 
national income went into new industrial 
construction, mostly in heavy industries 
which are essential to war effort. The 
price of this strained development in 
suffering and deprivation was very high. 
It was higher because of bureaucratic 
maladministration and because the peas- 
ant's way of life was being violently 
changed by the forcible imposition of 
collective farming. But the fruits of this 
stern policy, in terms of tanks and air- 
planes and the supporting network of 
factories capable of producing them, 



228 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



were very substantial. Russia was 
achieving a wartime tempo of output 
and of civilian sacrifice whe". the Western 
democracies were keeping their military 
establishments on a peacetime basis. 

Totalitarian economics, the system un- 
der which the state by one means or an- 
other maintains absolute control of the 
labor power, the industrial plant, and the 
natural resources of a country, is a mili- 
tarist's dream. It is certainly no acci- 
dent that the three powers, Germany, 
Russia, and Japan, which have thus far 
proved most effective in land warfare 
are also three powers which, by different 
methods and for different reasons, have 
organized their economies along totali- 
tarian lines. 

It is one of the grimmest dilemmas of 
our age that democratic peace-loving 
peoples must either match and surpass 
these power machines or run the risk of 
being ground to pieces, like France and 
many of the smaller European countries. 
That totalitarian economy makes for 
military efficiency is only too painfully 
obvious if one looks at the present map 
of Europe — or of Asia. It has been one 
of our pleasing but dangerous illusions 
that a high standard of living was an 
indication of military power. So when 
returned travelers or resident foreign 
correspondents who never came within 
eyeshot of Red Army maneuvers or So- 
viet munitions factories reported quite 
truthfully that Soviet trains were stuffy, 
overcrowded, and odorous, that Russians 
stood in line all night for a chance to buy 
a piece of shoddy textile, that the life 
of the Soviet citizen was lacking in al- 
most all luxuries and many comforts, we 
instinctively wrote off the prospective 
Russian war effort as negligible. (The 
same false conclusion was often drawn 
from similar true premises in the case of 
Japan.) But Hitler has no monopoly on 
the idea that a people can be coerced 
and cajoled into foregoing butter for 
guns. 

The Red Army has been less subject 
to the spell of the last war than any other 
large military organization. The breach 



with the old regime had been sweeping 
and complete. A few Tzarist generals 
remained in advisory capacities. But 
the strategic thinking of the Red Army, 
both before and after the shooting of 
Marshal Tukhachevsky and his associates, 
was shaped by new men who were not 
obsessed with the traditions of trench 
warfare and immobile fronts. Soviet 
military preparations (strongly influ- 
enced, it may be noted, by the German 
Reichswehr during the period, which 
lasted until the rise of Hitler, when 
Soviet-German political relations were 
cordial) took full account of the possi- 
bilities of air and mechanized warfare. 
The rattle of tanks of many sizes and 
types over the cobbled surface of the 
Red Square was a familiar sound on the 
days of ceremonial parades. May 1st and 
November 7th. Of the hardening of the 
mental arteries which was characteristic 
of the majority of officers in the French 
General Staff and of much British mili- 
tary thinking before the spring of 1940 
there was no trace in Russia. 

The vast size, varied resources, and 
large population of the Soviet Union 
were notable aids in standing up to the 
shock of Hitler's onslaught. When the 
Germans had penetrated two hundred 
miles into the country, France was fin- 
ished. Even if there had been more 
fighting spirit in the French Army there 
could have been no long struggle after 
the Germans had mastered the coal and 
iron deposits of the eastern provinces and 
the industrial area around Paris. There 
would have been no means of supplying 
a large army with the required mu- 
nitions. 

But the Germans pushed six or seven 
hundred miles into Russia without deal- 
ing a knockout blow, without breaking 
the Soviet resistance. For the Soviet 
Union is almost three times as large as 
the United States. It is about forty 
times the size of France. It contains 
almost one-sixth of the land surface of 
the globe. There is always endless space 
in which to maneuver, to retreat, to coun- 
ter-attack. Russian natural resources in 



THE RUSSIAN ENIGMA 



229 



iron, coal, oil, mane^ancsc, and other 
metals are rich and widely distributed. 
While the loss of iron ore in the Ukraine, 
of coal in the Donets Basin cannot be 
taken lightly and the seizure of the oil 
in the Caucasus would be a stunning 
blow, Russia during the last decade has 
insured itself to some extent against 
an economic knockout by shifting its 
industrial center of gravity eastward, to 
the Urals and Siberia. And the one 
hundred and seventy million people of 
the So\*iet Union outnumber the inhab- 
itants of all the European countries 
which Hitler successively attacked and 
overran. 

Bo:h physically and psychologically 
the Russians are a tough, resilient people. 
I was \*isiiing a Cossack \'illage in the 
Kuban region of southeastern Russia in 
the autumn of 1935. It was the after- 
math of a great famine. In the first 
house which I entered there were an 
old woman, her daughter, and the latter's 
newly bom baby. The daughter's 
brother, his wife, and five children had 
died of hunger. But this young woman 
herself was full of energy- and will to 
live. She had borne a child in this terri- 
ble year. And she had gone back to 
work in the collective farm as soon as 
possible after giWng birth. The toll of 
death in this famine was staggering. It 
flight have been a mortal blow to a 
Western country with a stationary or de- 
clining birthrate. But in Russia, as in 
China, the process of recovery from such 
a natural catastrophe as war or famine 
is amazingly swift. 

One can imagine how much this qual- 
ity- of toughness has been cultivated since 
1914. Russia has lived through rwo 
major foreign wars, a violent social revo- 
lution, a ferocious ci\il war, and t^vo 
disastrous famines. A people to whom 
death, sometimes in vers* horrible forms, 
has become so familiar would not shrink 
from any sacrifice in a strusrele for na- 
tional survival. There is a srrim Russian 
proverb: Dz'um svieTtram nye bivat a odnoi 
r.ye mi^.oiat. ''There are not two deaths 
and one cannot be avoided.'') 



This proverb reflects the spirit ol the 
Russian people in the present war, as in 
many other crises of their history. While 
the French thought of the incomparable 
beauties of Paris and surrendered their 
capital without firing a shot, the Russians 
were willing to throw into the melting 
pot of total war their first industrial 
achievement, the Dnieprostroi dam and 
electric power plant, together with the 
Westernized architecture of Leningrad 
and the more Eastern glories of Moscow, 
the Kremlin, and the Church of St. 
Basil. 

Ill 

Stalin's foreign policy has been pro- 
foundly secretive and no authoritative 
documented interpretation of it is yet 
possible. The Soviet dictator has been 
variously represented as a sinister plotter 
of world revolution through war which 
he incited while planning to remain aloof, 
and as a frustrated idealist who was eager 
to fight for Czechoslovakia but was 
checked by Chamberlain and Daladier. 
The accuracy of both these interpreta- 
tions is doubtful. The emphasis on the 
world revolutionary ideal has been stead- 
ily diminishing since Stalin came into 
absolute power more than a decade ago. 
Russia's national interests, the main- 
tenance of his own power, have bulked 
larger in Stalin's mind than the prospects 
of communist revolution in other coun- 
tries. 

Nor is there any convincing evidence 
that Stalin would have fought for Czecho- 
slovakia. His agreement with Hider, 
concluded at a moment when England 
and France were clearly committed to 
fighting Germany, is more eloquent than 
Litvinov's disquisitions in favor of collec- 
tive security. This agreement has some- 
times been explained on the ground that 
Stalin had to win time for militan.- prepa- 
ration. But this argument would have 
been even more cogent in 1938, so soon 
after the sweeping purge of the Soviet 
armed forces, than it was in 1 939. There 
is no positive act of Stalin's that does not 
square with the proposition that he v/as 



250 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



pursuing a "Russia First"^ policy of trying 
to canalize the impending war away from 
Russia's frontiers, of refusing to fight un- 
til and unless he had no alternative. 

And Stalin has been waging a thor- 
oughly nationalist war. In his appeals 
to the Russian people and the Red 
Army he has urged them to fight to clear 
the German invaders out of Russia, not 
for the triumph of international working- 
class revolution. There have been a 
few polite references to the aid which 
Russia has been receiving from Great 
Britain and the United States. But the 
idea of a coalition war against Hitler has 
not been emphasized. And Stalin has 
been very uncommunicative on the sub- 
ject of blueprints for a new world order. 

A book that has recently appeared in 
an English translation (it was published 
in Russia in 1938), Eugene Tarl^'s Na- 
poleon^ s Invasion oj Russia — 7572, casts 
some interesting sidelights on Stalin's 
'"Russia First" ideology. While it would 
be unreasonable in a democratic country 
to interpret a historical work as neces- 
sarily indicative of the government's 
point of view, nothing of a political char- 
acter that is published under the strict 
Soviet censorship is without such signifi- 
cance. Moreover, Tarl^ was exiled for 
some ''dangerous thoughts" which he 
cherished, or was supposed to have cher- 
ished, some time ago. He was later re- 
habilitated. It is a fair assumption that 
he would not give ofi'ense a second time. 

The hero of Tarl^'s narrative is Mar- 
shal Kutuzov, who wished to stop the 
war as soon as the French had been driven 
out of Russia. The villain, after Napo- 
leon, is the British Ambassador to Russia, 
Sir Robert Wilson. The prolongation 
of the war after Napoleon's defeat in 
Russia is represented as a triumph of 
British gold and British intrigue. Here 
are a few typical citations from Tarle's 
book: 

From England came not only rifles, but also 
gold pounds, and they came in generous 
amounts — the English have always been gener- 
ous when trying to defeat a strong enemy with 
the help of a foreign army. 



In 1812 Kutuzov had many opportunities to 
observe the generosity of foreigners in shedding 
the blood of Russian soldiers. 

What happened was exacdy what Kutuzov 
had foretold . . . England profited most from 
Napoleon's destruction. England's economic 
primacy, which Napoleon's most desperate ef- 
forts could not wrest from her, now remained 
uncontested for decades. Russian exports, im- 
ports, and exchange became strongly dependent 
on London. 

The treaty with Great Britain and the 
verbal understanding with the United 
States which were the fruits of Foreign 
Minister Molotov's secret visits to Lon- 
don and Washington mark a relaxation 
of Stalin's previous isolationism. The 
idea of a separate peace is specifically 
ruled out and the Soviet Union assumes 
the role, with England, of co-guarantor 
of European stability after the war. 
There may well be hopeful germs of 
future world order in these agreements. 
But it would be unrealistic not to recog- 
nize that these understandings were 
largely a product of what may prove to 
be a supreme war crisis, when Hitler was 
giving signs of preparing new heavy blows 
on the eastern front. It was a matter 
of primary importance to England and 
America to keep Stalin fighting. And 
to the practical-minded Soviet dictator 
the promise of more supplies, the prospect 
of a second front in some form, were well 
worth a few gestures of respect to the 
phraseology of the Atlantic Charter. 

The events of the next months, per- 
haps of the next weeks, will show whether 
the invasion of Russia was a military 
blunder on Hitler's part. Politically 
and economically it was a logical move, 
given the Nazi program of predatory im- 
perialism. It was only in Russia, and 
especially in its more productive regions, 
the Ukraine and the Caucasus, that Hit- 
ler could hope to obtain the surplus food- 
stuffs and raw materials, the cereals and 
meat and dairy products, the oil and 
manganese, which he needed if his Euro- 
pean empire was to be a workable self- 
sufficient organism. In the face of 
Anglo-American sea power it would be 
many years, perhaps decades, before 



Tin- RL.^blA\ KNIGMA 



231 



Germany could hope to establish secure 
lines of communication with overseas 
colonies. But in Russia was a p>otential 
large, rich, contiguous land colony 
which, if it could be conquered, could 
be held without sea power. 

What will Stalin want after the war? 
Much depends of course on how the 
struggle comes to an end. No one can 
foresee now whether the German Army 
and the German social order, in the 
event of defeat, will retain as much cohe- 
sion and discipline as they did in 1918 or 
whether the Nazi regime will dissolve in 
an atmosphere of sheer chaos and 
anarchy. It is premature to predict 
whether Stalin's armies will play the 
predominant part in the final victory or 
whether British and American forces, on 
land as well as in the air, will deliver the 
decisive blow. 

Although the question was shelved in 
the Anglo-Russian treaty and in the 
Anglo-American understandings, appar- 
ently in deference to American scruples, 
Stalin will most probably expect, as a 
minimum reward of victory, the restora- 
tion of his 1941 frontier. When the 
German armies begin to roll back in 
eastern Europe there is no reason to sup- 
pose that, the Red Army will stop at the 
former state frontiers of Latvia, Lithu- 
ania,' and Esthonia, unless Anglo-Ameri- 
can domination of the Continent is 
firmer and wider than now seems prob- 
able. The Soviet Union, as Stalin sees 
the future, would be flanked by a smaller 
Poland, a restored Czechoslovakia, and 
a group of Balkan stares, not Sovietized 
but subservient to Moscow in matters of 
foreign policy. 

In this age, when mechanized warfare 
automatically places such terrific power 
in the hands of a highly industrialized 
state, the mainly agricultural lands of 
eastern and southeastern Europe seem 
almost predestined to fall under some 
form either of German or of Russian 
domination. There is a bare possibility 
that Germany and Russia may exhaust 
each other in the present struggle. Then 
the situation at the end of the last \var, 



when both Germany and Russia, for 

difTcrcni reasons, wcf ! from 

the scheme of power . ^hl be 

reproduced and ihc peoples who live 
between the great Russian and German 
population ma^.^cs might be able to at- 
tain genuine independence again. Bui 
it seems more probable that one of the 
two mastodon military machines which 
are fighting on the plains of eastern 
Europe will emerge victorious. 

In the matter of direct territorial an- 
nexation and in the imposition by force 
of communism on countries outside 
Russia's frontier Stalin may prove less 
formidable than some observers who are 
terrified by the specter of post-war bol- 
shevism may anticipate. Of course his 
hand may be forced by spontaneous com- 
munist outbreaks in at least some of the 
countries which are now under German 
occupation. It may be that movements 
of revolt and despair which will be be- 
yond the control of Stalin, as of Roose- 
velt and Churchill, will develop. It 
would have been an uncommon prophet 
who would have foreseen, in 1917, that 
Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini would dom- 
inate the post-war aftermath in Europe. 
But at present it looks unlikely that Rus- 
sia will wish to build a bolshevist empire. 

There is nothing in Stalin's political 
record or psychology', however, to sug- 
gest that he would fit in very easily with 
any far-reaching scheme of world federa- 
tion or world control. The idea, for in- 
stance, of a Soviet contingent in an in- 
ternational police force upholding some 
decision of a supra-national authority 
against Russia is not con\-incing. Nor 
would an international armaments-in- 
spection commission face an easy task 
in the Soviet Union. And the autarchy 
which has long been an outstanding fea- 
ture of the Soviet economy does not seem 
very adaptable to international eco- 
nomic arrangements designed to pro- 
mote a freer flow of trade and all-roimd 
access to raw materials. 

Russia is too big and powerful a coun- 
try* to be isnored in the post-war settle- 
ment. The United States and Great 



232 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



Britain will have every reason to seek a 
modus Vivendi with the Soviet regime, and 
it is to be hoped that common ground 
will be found in a general desire to pre- 
serve international peace. But the ideo- 
logical and institutional chasm between 
the Soviet Union and the Western pow- 
ers is so wide that there seems to be 
strong reason to believe that peace 
preservation, at least in the immediate 
future, will be based on some regional 
scheme, not on the foundation of some 
all-inclusive world federative state. 

IV 

When the Russian Revolution flamed 
on the world horizon twenty-five years 
ago it challenged four old ana deeply 
rooted human institutions: religion, the 
family, private property, and nationalist 
feeling. Religion was "opium for the 
people," in Marx's phrase. The family 
was "bourgeois"; early Soviet legislation 
made divorce a matter of a post-card no- 
tice from one partner in a marriage to 
the other. Moreover, the very impact 
of the social upheaval disrupted many 
families, the children being attracted by 
the new creed, while the elders remained 
aloof, embittered, unreconciled. Private 
property in every form, in cash and se- 
curities, in land and real estate, in own- 
ership of factories and mines and shops, 
was unsparingly and completely de- 
stroyed. Nationalism was condemned, 
and the Bolshevik Revolution was hailed 
as the first act in a world upheaval, with 
an international Republic of Soviets as 
the ultimate goal. 

It is interesting to cast up the balance 
sheet of the Soviet regime in the light of 
this fourfold challenge, in the perspective 
of the quarter of a century that has now 
elapsed. 

Toward all forms of religion the Soviet 
regime has remained uncompromisingly 
hostile. While the intensity of anti-re- 
ligious activity has varied, there has 
never been a fundamental change in the 
attitude of discouraging religious faith 
and practice by every means of propa- 



ganda, reinforced by some methods of 
repression. No Communist may pro- 
fess any religious faith; little or no reli- 
gious literature may be printed; educa- 
tion in the schools is anti-religious. So 
far as I could observe, the younger So- 
viet generation has grown up in the 
main without religious convictions, al- 
though of course there would be individ- 
ual exceptions. Apparently there has 
been a suspension of aggressive anti- 
religious propaganda since the beginning 
of the war. One of the latest issues of 
the chief organ of this propaganda, the 
magazine Bezbozhnik ("The Godless"), 
was even devoted to an indignant and 
somewhat humorless denunciation of re- 
ligious persecution in Germany. No 
doubt Stalin desires both to avoid unnec- 
essary division at home and to conciliate 
public opinion in foreign countries. 
But how permanent this more tolerant 
policy will be cannot be predicted with 
assurance. 

Soviet policy in the matter of family 
relations changed appreciably during 
the past decade. The original antago- 
nism between the older and the younger 
generations abated as the Soviet regime 
was more and more taken for granted and 
as the number of people who have grown 
up under its influence increased from 
year to year. The advantage of a high 
birth rate from the military standpoint 
has been emphasized in recent Soviet 
publications. Divorce has been made 
more difficult and those who practice 
abortions are liable to severe punish- 
ment. While women are free to take 
part in the risks and opportunities of 
life on equal terms with men, to become 
engineers, aviators, presidents of local 
Soviets, the Soviet family has become 
more stabilized. 

There are two widespread illusions 
about the status of private property in 
the Soviet Union. There is the belief 
that everything in Russia is equally 
shared. And there is the idea that the 
Soviet leaders have "gone back to capi- 
talism." Both these statements are in- 
accurate. The Soviet regime does not 



Tin. RUSSIAN ENIGMA 



233 



practice and never has practiced that 
Ibrm of communism, of equal sharing of 
food and clothing, which one sometimes 
linds in small communities, usually held 
together by some religious sanction. 
Indeed the necessity for unequal reward 
for work of unequal amoimt and value 
has been strenuously advocated during 
the past decade. The high Soviet ofh- 
cial, the manager of a state enterprise, is 
far better paid than the skilled worker. 
The skilled worker receives considerably 
higher wages than the unskilled. Al- 
lowing for the all-round poverty of the 
country, for the fact that there are many 
luxuries and some comforts which no 
Soviet citizen can obtain, there is about 
as much variation in individual stand- 
ards of living in the Soviet Union as in 
the so-called capitalist states. 

Yet Russia has broken finally and ir- 
revocably with private capitaHsm in the 
matter of ownership for profit. No pri- 
vate business, however petty, is toler- 
ated. Only a small and dwindling 
remnant of peasants farm the land on an 
individualist basis. The vast majority 
of the peasants have been more or less 
forcibly organized in collective farms, 
which are practically state agricultural 
factories, with the peasants being paid, 
like industrial workers, on the basis of 
what they produce. The peasant has 
the right to cultivate an individual gar- 
den, to raise pigs and sheep and chick- 
ens as personal property. But his prin- 
cipal work must be for the collective 
farm. 

Here there has been a major economic 
revolution. National socialism and fas- 
cism have achieved the similar result of 
putting the state in complete control of 
the national economy without formally 
abolishing private property by estab- 
lishing a system of rigid directions and 
government controls over all important 
phases of business life, over wages, prices, 
credit, and production. But Russia has 
gone farther by completely dispossessing 
the owning class (even the small handi- 
craftsman and the peasant with fifteen or 
twenty acres of land). Production has 



been plarrd in the hands of a newly 
created and very changeable bureauc- 
racy. Key post.s in this bureaucracy, 
like important political offices, arc in- 
variably held by mrmbrrs of the ruling 
Clomnmnist Party. 

In regard to nationalism, on the other 
hand, Russian communism has executed 
a complete volte-face. Gone arc the days 
when the Red Army was exhorted to 
fight for the world revolution, when 
Trotsky conjured up for gaping peasant 
conscripts the vision of a Communist 
United States of Europe which would 
send out an invincible armada to smash 
the last stronghold of capitalism in the 
United States. The indiscriminate abuse 
of the Russian past (apart from its revo- 
lutionary movements) which was char- 
acteristic of the first phase of the Revo- 
lution has given way to appreciation of 
outstanding figures in Russian history, 
in war and politics, in literature and art. 
This tough vitality of national feeling 
under the challenge of a revolution 
which set out to be militantly interna- 
tionalist should give pause to some of 
the more ambitious framers of world- 
reconstruction projects that would throw 
nationalism completely out of the window. 

W'hen one tries to evaluate the effect 
of the Revolution on the Russian way of 
life and the Russian standard of living 
one must tread warily. By a skillful 
manipulation of statistics, by a deliberate 
arrangement of citations, one could 
prove that Russia under the Soviets has 
been either an earthly paradise or an 
unredeemed and unredeemable hellhole 
of creation. Many of the arguments 
about the Soviet Union are essentially 
insoluble because they come down to 
the question of individual taste, whether 
one likes or does not like a highly regi- 
mented, coUectivist form of society, 
where the pressure of the mass on the 
individual is extremely strong. One 
must also consider in drawing compari- 
sons between Russia in 1913 and Russia 
in 1941, before the war tore up the life 
of the country, that life did not stand 
still in pre-war Russia and that progress 



234 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



in education and industrial develop- 
ment and changes in living habits would 
have occurred even if there had been no 
revolution or a more moderate form of 
revolution. 

Russia has been very much urbanized 
under the Soviet regime. This helps to 
explain the apparent contradiction be- 
tween Soviet statistics showing increased 
output of manufactured goods and the 
chronic shortage of these goods in Mos- 
cow and other Russian cities. Far more 
people are dependent for their clothes 
and boots on factory production. The 
peasant handmade coats and boots and 
the clothing made by small local tailors 
no longer figure in the national budget 
of consumption goods. 

The latest available statistics indicate 
that prices of staple foodstuffs and manu- 
factures have risen much more than 
wages, by comparison with 1913. On 
the other hand, employment is much 
fuller; and perhaps the increased family 
income offsets the unfavorable price- 
wage relation. There is a good deal more 
outdoor exercise and there is probably 
less excessive drinking than one would 
have found in pre-war Russia. The 
rapid industrialization of the country has 
created a multiplicity of jobs for young 
men; and the opportunities of the poorer 
classes for education and vocational 
training and for economic and social ad- 
vancement are certainly wider than they 
were under the Tzars. 

Censorship of every kind is more rigid 
and the opportunities for expressing 
political criticism, restricted under the 
Tzars, are non-existent under the pres- 
ent full-blown totalitarian system. More 
people can read and write; the Govern- 
ment has done a good deal to encourage 
artistic production and scientific re- 
search. Yet the dead hand of political 



control has often had a bad effect on the 
expression of creative thought; the free- 
dom which the intellectual takes for 
granted in democratic countries exists 
only in such nonpolitical fields as explo- 
ration and the physical sciences. 

The last word on the Russian Revolu- 
tion has not been said. The very exist- 
ence of the regime which it brought into 
being hangs on the outcome of the gi- 
gantic struggle that began on June 22, 
1941. But it seems quite probable that, 
for the collectivist twentieth century, the 
Russian Revolution has played the role 
of herald and precursor that belonged 
to the French Revolution in the individ- 
ualist nineteenth century. A precise 
repetition of what occurred in Russia is 
scarcely to be expected in any other 
large country. Many aspects of the 
Soviet regime can be understood only in 
the light of a peculiarly Russian tradi- 
tion, which Ivan the Terrible and Peter 
the Great would have understood — of 
achieving change with a tremendous 
sacrifice of human lives. 

And, like its French predecessor, the 
Russian Revolution has its full share of 
paradox and contradiction. The mas- 
sacres of the Reign of Terror were not a 
favorable augury of respect for individual 
liberty. And the Soviet citizen has ex- 
perienced little sense of security during a 
quarter of a century when social revolu- 
tion and new economic experiments have 
led to an almost unprecedented uproot- 
ing of human existences. Yet on the 
long view the French Revolution was a 
force favorable to individual liberty. 
On a still longer view the Russian Revo- 
lution may seem to have made a contri- 
bution to that search for economic 
security in which mankind has been 
engaged, not very successfully as yet, 
during our own age. 




>o 




'^J 



CIVILIAN DEFENSE— THERE SHE STANDS 



BY C. LESTER WALKER 



ON December 11th, four days after 
Pearl Harbor, a number of air raid 
wardens of New York City pronounced 
their air raid precautions set-up "a per- 
fect farce." On February 25th newspa- 
pers in Wisconsin began howling "civil- 
ian defense in this State is a mess" and 
blamed it on the Governor. Los Ange- 
les, about the first of April, reported that 
it needed 50,000 auxiliary firemen and 
fire watchers but could enroll less than 
5,000. Then, about May first, the chief 
of civilian defense in Buffalo (rated by 
the Army as a target area surpassed in 
military importance by only San Fran- 
cisco and Detroit) resigned in deep dis- 
gust. Politics, he felt, had wrecked 
Buffalo's civilian defense program. Pri- 
vately he predicted chaos and public 
panic if enemy bombers came. 

To almost any one of us it had be- 
come evident by this time that all was 
not well in our civilian defense. But 
nobody knew the true all-over state of 
affairs, nor where the chief weaknesses 
or chief accomplishments lay. Was ci- 
vilian defense really very badly organ- 
ized? Under-equipped? Deficient in 
personnel — numbers and morale? Then, 
was the seat of the trouble — much or 
little — at the top, in the Office of Civilian 
Defense in Washington? Was that of- 
fice muddling or was it doing its job 
efficiently? 

Any examination of the OCD in 
Washington must take into consideration 
its origins. Under the La Guardia- 
Mrs. Roosevelt regime conditions were 



pretty obviously often on the Gilbert 
and Sulhvan side. 7his is nu reputa- 
tion for any government agency to have; 
but it was OCD's when James M. Landis 
— once head of the Securities and Ex- 
change Commission and subsequently 
Dean of the Harvard Law School— took 
it over as Director on February 10th of 
this year. 

Landis got to work with the ax right 
away. Departments that he thought 
irrelevant to civilian defense (or with 
activities better performed by other 
government agencies) he lopped off. 
The Library Section went. It was sim- 
ply engaged in utilizing public and 
private libraries to tell the civilian defense 
story. The Racial Section — which dealt 
mainly with Negro problems — followed 
fast after it. To Paul McXutt, Landis 
transferred OCD's Physical Fitness Di- 
vision — to the Office of Defense Health 
and Welfare Services, where it belonged. 
The Division of Youth Activities was jet- 
tisoned. This was the department that 
early OCD releases had pridefully an- 
nounced as appointing for its co-ordinator 
"a collegian fresh from the campus." 
And among the others relegated to the 
old-parts pile was one little jewel in the 
civilian defense timepiece called The 
Know-Your-Government Division — an- 
other of the civilian morale-building 
activities. 

By May, Landis had his agency stripped 
for action; and at this writing OCD has 
fewer frills and is smoother-functioning 
than it has ever been. It is housed in 
the Du Pont Circle Apartments, a long. 



236 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



flatiron-shaped red brick jDuilding over- 
looking the green elms and the plashing 
white marble fountain oi Du Pont Circle 
park, and its offices crowd the six upper 
floors. Personnel runs to 600 people in 
Washington, 350 in the nine Regional 
Offices outside. Landis's office is in 
the center of the building on the tenth 
floor, now air-conditioned against the 
summer heat. Landis, a rather high- 
strung, chain-smoking person, given to 
pacing his office, is working on the job 
fourteen hours a day. Some of his 
colleagues think he is pushing himself 
too hard and are worried about him. 

Don't imagine, however, that all these 
activities have ironed out all of OCD's 
difficulties — for they have not. Its work 
is still hampered by traditional Washing- 
ton impediments: pettiness, politics, and 
interdepartmental jealousies. Two Sen- 
ators — Byrd and McKellar — who have 
all along rated OCD's accomplishments 
as of a very low order, at an early date 
had Landis report progress to their 
committee on non-essential Federal ex- 
penditures. Dissatisfied, they are said 
to have told the OCD head: "Thirty days 
to straighten out the mess — or then we 
crack down." Another sample of petty 
squabbling — not without overtones of 
humor — came when the Senator from 
Virginia discovered that OCD possessed 
a Bowling Co-ordinator! A sharp ex- 
change of letters followed, with Landis 
finally setting Byrd right in rather pep- 
pery periods: 

The appointment of Mr. Jack Willem as 
Bowling Co-ordinator was purely on a volun- 
tary basis. He was not nor will he be entitled 
to receive a nickel from the Federal Govern- 
ment. For that reason there was no occasion 
for putting his name on the list that was 
furnished your committee. 

Any Washington newspaperman can 
tell you how OCD's work is hindered 
by departmental jealousies. Every head 
of a government department considers 
himself of course as a potential President. 
So he watches every other department 
head like a hawk. Landis is believed 
by close associates to be without any 



political ambitions whatever; but will 
any other department head believe it? 
"Remember how Hoover made Belgian 
Relief a stepping-stone to the Presidency? 
If enemy bombers paste us, and OCD has 
done a good job and is ready for them — 
well, Landis will be a national hero, 

won't he? Well ?" So OCD has 

to tread softly wherever it goes. So 
delicate are the questions of protocol 
that when Landis planned to shift OCD's 
Physical Fitness Section to McNutt's 
Defense Health and W^elfare, the proph- 
ets (although later proved wrong) freely 
predicted that such a transfer would 
never stick. 

Some other OCD difficulties concern 
the press. Some of the papers seem 
unaware that Landis's regime is a new 
one. Their reporters still simperingly 
refer to the organization as Ocy-Docy. 
"Cissie" Patterson's paper reported with 
fiendish glee after one blackout that the 
only lights glared forth from the Civilian 
Defense building — although the District 
of Columbia local Civilian Defense 
Council had complete control there, 
Landis's office none. The same local 
Council, after OCD had produced the 
loudest warning siren known to man, 
disdainfully ordered a number of smaller 
types of its own choosing. 

You can add to these difficulties an 
intermittent agitation in the national 
capital to put civilian defense under the 
War Department. In January, before 
Landis took over, the House, it will be 
remembered, one day actually voted 
the transfer. To-day the Army is terri- 
fied at the idea. It estimates that 30,- 
000 new officers would be needed for the 
job. Nevertheless the scheme is said to 
find favor even within the ranks of OCD 
itself. The argument runs that OCD 
has no way to impose its authority on 
anyone. How can it be expected to get 
things done? 

No doubt this is a major weakness. 
OCD has under its supervision thirty- 
odd services. Even a mere listing of 
them somewhat staggers the mind with 
their vastness and variety: 



CIVILIAN DEFENSE - 1 Ill.Ki. Slli: STANDS 



237 



Air Raid Wardens 

Auxiliary I'ircincn 

Auxiliary Policcnicn 

IJliliiics Repair Squads 

Rescue Squads 

I'.uiergency Medical Services 

Nurses' Aides 

Emergency Food and Housing Corps 

Drivers' Units 

Messengers 

Road Repair Crews 

Demolition and Clearance Crews 

Decontamination Squads 

Fire Watchers 

War Stamp and Bond Sale Services 

Salvage for Victory Programs 

Victory Gardens 

\Var Relief Programs 

Family Security Services 

Child Care Services 

Health Services 

Nutrition Services 

Consumer Programs 

Housing Programs 

Recreation Services 

School Programs 

Reference Library 

Information Services 

Red Cross Programs 

Agriculture's Wartime Program 

Young Citizens' Services 

All these services OCD in Washington 
"supervises," but just what the relation- 
ship is which ties them to the top has 
remained obscure to most of us from the 
beginning. Actually the relationship is 
very tenuous — of about the strength of 
an armband. By Federal law, you, as a 
civilian defense worker, may not wear any 
official civilian defense insignia unless 
you have first complied with the train- 
ing regulations. There is the tie-up with 
the "services." And the relationship of 
OCD with the local defense councils, as 
such, is even more gossamery, the coun- 
cils being completely autonomous, with 
OCD unable to command anyone or 
anything. 

"We exercise considerable influence 
in advising, encouraging, and assisting 
local groups," an OCD official has ex- 
plained. "Influence" is the word. That 
is, while OCD does the over-all plan- 
ning for all civilian defense, and provides 
one national policy, it can in no way en- 
force that policy anywhere. Its nine 
Regional Offices keep in touch with the 



Stale Defense Councils, but do not and 
cannot control them. If a State wants 
to refuse to co-opcratc with OCD, and 
to let its air raid defense preparations 
go to pot, it may and docs. As this is 
written, Landis's office concedes that 
some States refuse to co-opcratc, and 
that only in a majority of the States can 
it distribute material and instructions 
direct to the local defense councils. 

If you want to see some of the conse- 
quences of this lack of power to coerce, 
just take a look now at the city of BufTalo. 

II 

Buffalo, as a military target, should 
make any Nazi flight commander's 
mouth water. Within the city or near 
it lie several important aircraft plants, 
steel plants, and other vital war-manu- 
facturing concerns, and on the Niagara 
River are big abrasive companies, so 
important for machine tools. With all 
these tempters, Buffalo ought to be the 
best prepared city in the country against 
the day when bombs fall. Actually 
Buffalo's civilian defense preparation has 
been a farce because of city politics. 

The Common Council is Republican. 
The Mayor, Joseph J. Kelly, is a Demo- 
crat. The Mayor, at this writing, has 
never attended a meeting of the Civilian 
Defense Council (now known in Buffalo 
as the War Council) but has constituted 
himself as its head. "Governor Lehman 
personally telephoned him," states one 
civilian defense official, "and begged 
him not to take the job. But he's like 
La Guardia — got to head everything." 
Then the Mayor appointed as deputy in 
complete charge of civilian protection, 
at a salary of S5,200, a political re- 
porter from a local newspaper. "Who 
knows little about the job," civilian 
defense workers subsequently remarked 
sourly, "but will certainly improve 
the Mayor's press notices in the Cour- 
ier Expressr"" This appointment further 
antagonized the city Council. When 
I was in Buffalo a few weeks ago it 
was prophesied on all sides that the 



238 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



ISb 



\m. ^kMFPbtjl- 



police bave 
aidcnsil»ic 

no 



erted." 



it 



z. It. 



cfic 



ks It B too t 



OCD 



ci 



It 



CIVILIAN DEFENSE— THERE SHE STANDS 



239 



II 



When you come to equipment for 
civilian defense you have the Mayor of 
Xew York as the chief prophet of do(jm. 
lie reported publicly over seven radio 
stations one afternoon that OCD was 
bungling the equipment job, had sent 
out no medical supplies, no pumpers, 
no stirrup pumps, no auxiliary fire equip- 
ment. "I want to tell the Office of 
Civilian Defense," he warned, "that you 
cannot put out a fire with an armband." 

We were then told by Mr. Landis that 
governmental red tape had caused delay. 
Whereas he had taken office in OCD on 
February 10th, the President did not 
sign the bill authorizing expenditure for 
civilian defense equipment until March 
6th. Then the Budget Bureau failed 
until March 16th to notify OCD that 
the funds were available. After that, 
however, contracts for the equipment 
were let as soon as possible, subject 
however to further delays owing to La 
Guardian specifications which conflicted 
with Army and Navy priorities. 

At this writing the OCD has had 
S100,000,000 to spend and has allocated 
it to the following equipment: 

Gas masks $29,000,000 

Fire Fighting Equipment 57,000,000 

Protective Clothing 8,000,000 

Emergency Medical Equipment . . 5,000,000 

If you work as an air raid warden you 
may wonder why you have not yet seen a 
gas mask. And the chances are that you 
may never see one. "We have put the 
money into experiment and the develop- 
ment of factories," OCD officials will 
tell you. Some masks are to be delivered 
for training purposes; about five million 
in all by September. Should gas attacks 
occur, however, mass manufacture will 
begin immediately, rising to a possible 
peak rate of about two and a half million 
masks a month. 

In this policy the OCD is taking a 
great gamble, but experts agree that it is 
a sensible one. Gas laid down from the 
sky by bombings is ineffective compared 
to other ways of inflicting casualties. 



Fire bombs or high explosives, ton for 
ton of airplane load, pay bipjgcr divi- 
dends. Pnjbably no enemy boml>rr 
could afford to carry lethal gas to Arnrri- 
can shores. The OCD remembers that 
the British miscalculated grossly on the 
danger from gas, expecting to be blan- 
keted with it from the moment war be- 
gan ; and so gas masks — which deteriorate 
rapidly— ate up thousands of tons of 
rubber and other critical materials that 
could have been better utilized else- 
where. In all this the OCD is, with 
good sense, simply taking a leaf out of the 
British book of experience. 

On fire apparatus we are going trj be 
short for some time to come, and appar- 
ently there is no help for it. The OGD's 
Fire Defense Committee — experts from 
all over — have set up a "needs" formula 
which recommends allocating to cities 
under 200,000 population one auxiliary 
pumper for each pumper now in opera- 
tion, plus one for each existing pumper 
over fifteen years old. Cities with more 
than 200,000 inhabitants are to have two 
pumpers for each in operation, plus one 
for each over fifteen years of age — if 
they can get them. But most cannot. 
About June 1st, OCD stated that "18,000 
to 20,000 pieces of fire-fighting equip- 
ment will be issued to fire departments.". 
Invitations for bids for 9,000 trailer 
pumps were announced back in May, 
but Washington itself admits that de- 
livery will still be some time in coming. 
So if we are bombed, our cities will 
probably have to take it for a while and 
think of Bataan. 

By contrast, on another important 
item of civilian defense, the situation is 
encouraging indeed. For a warning 
siren which would blast through sky- 
scraper walls, OCD went to the Bell 
Telephone Laboratories. The result is 
that its Victory Siren makes the loudest 
sound in the world. This siren was even 
considered by the Army for a while as a 
weapon of offense: it will break the ear- 
drums of anyone within a hundred feet. 
Previously the loudest sirens in general 
use produced at 100 feet about 100 



240 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



decibels of sound; thk latest yowler 
gives a noise over thirtv times as loud! — 
and out-roars our biggest naval guns. 
One Victory Siren does the work of 
over 100 of the smaller sirens. Yet the 
mechanism is simple — a blower forces 
blasts of air through whirling choppers 
and the device projects sound on a beam, 
so that it can be played like a search- 
light. It is cheap compared to other 
sirens, considering its effect — it costs 
about $3,200; a standard automobile 
motor will run it, and 85 per cent of its 
material is cast iron — unfettered by 
priorities. Not only have plans and 
technical information been turned over 
to manufacturers, but Chrysler in June 
was actually delivering the finished sirens 
to the towns. 

In all this matter of equipment pro- 
duction the OCD has undoubtedly made 
mistakes here and there, and will no 
doubt make several more. But remem- 
ber that the British made errors too, even 
in the face of war twenty-two miles from 
their doors. They over-planned on 
medical aid and supplies, expecting day- 
long raids and 60,000 daily casualties. 
London prepared 200,000 hospital beds, 
and hundreds of London doctors left 
their practices to enlist in civilian defense 
work. An eye-witness tells of seeing 
while en route to his home in the country 
outside of London dozens of medical 
trains, with doctors and nurses, waiting 
on sidings for the emergency calls that 
even the all-out blitz of 1940 did not 
bring. Even the simple distribution of a 
pamphlet sometimes was bungled. "The 
I^^g for Victory handbook," the London 
Times growled one day, "has certainly 
fallen into strange hands — invalid so- 
cieties, hospital almoners, and keepers of 
goats!" 

Taken all in all, our own equipment 
program is better organized and more 
intelligently managed to-day than it 
has ever been. Certainly you would 
not find it giving such frenetic advice as 
one civilian defense official received in 
Buffalo in pre-Landis days. "How many 
blankets have you ordered for evacua- 



tion?" queried the $7,200-a-year adviser 
straight from headquarters. "Why — 
why none," stammered the Buffalo man, 
"how many do we need?" The adviser 
picked it right out of the air: 

"Brother, you need 50,000 — and you 
better get 'em to-day." 

IV 

All Jim Landis's speeches these days 
hammer home one theme: "This is a 
people's war." If civilian defense figures 
mean anything, it must be. To date 
over 7,280,000 Americans have volun- 
teered their services. The figures are 
impressive, as figures go — but inade- 
quate. It is only when you know what 
some of the 9,200-odd local defense 
councils are producing that you really 
catch the spirit of the thing. 

We are told that in Oregon a whole 
town spent an entire Sunday practicing 
against air raids. When Northport, 
Alabama, held a town meeting for 
civilian defense (on the Baptist Church 
lawn) the Mayor rode to the meeting by 
horse, and 2,000 townsfolk attended, 
out of a population of 2,500. Labor 
unions in San Diego — CIO, AF of L, and 
independent — have buried the hatchet 
and organized as one against air raids. 
Brothers in debris, they will handle the 
cleanup of wreckage if bombs fall. 
Down in Atlanta a meek little man en- 
tered the civilian defense headquarters 
and stood without saying anything. 
"Do you want to help in civilian de- 
fense?" the girl at the switchboard 
queried him. He took a piece of paper 
and wrote on it "Yes." He had come 
from the local chapter of the National 
Fraternal Association of the Deaf. His 
deaf-mute friends wanted to volunteer. 
To-day thirty-five of them take first-aid 
courses, which are taught to them man- 
ually. In New York City volunteer air 
raid wardens for months on end have 
been ungrudgingly paying telephone 
bills and all other post expenses out of 
their own pockets. When Hannibal, 
Missouri, Mark Twain's old town on 



CIVILIAN DEFENSE— THFRK SI IK SI AN OS 



241 



the Mississippi, rccniitrd for civilian 
defense with a town meeting and a 
parade, wc arc told that 4,000 vohinteers 
jammed the h^cal armory, and 15,000 
couldn't get in. And I know of three 
old ladies in an obscure town in New 
England who unassisted do all the air- 
plane spotting for their district. From 
the top of their own house they watch 
the clock round (they are all over seventy) 
twenty-four hours a day. 

In towns in the Eastern coastal States 
you will often find people who arc giving 
their spare time almost entirely to civilian 
defense activity. Sometimes the spirit 
of working for the cause takes hold of a 
whole community like a crusade. An 
example of this is the town of Kent, 
Connecticut, a place of 1,240 people, 
sixty miles north of New York. When 
the chairman of the Kent Defense 
Council some time back wanted to get 
the count on the town's civilian defense 
workers, he found it easier to do it in 
reverse, by toting up the non-partici- 
pants: only 200. 

Examples of the time and effort put 
into civilian defense in Kent are plentiful. 
The chairman of the Defense Council, 
James Humphreys, a teacher of Latin at 
the Kent School for boys, organized his 
council six months before Pearl Harbor 
and at once had volunteer workers 
conduct a survey of the town. It was 
certainly a work of love and much labor; 
for when it was done, Humphreys knew 
practically everything about Kent. He 
knew he had people speaking fourteen 
foreign languages, and who they were; 
he knew that a third of the town would 
contribute to the blood bank; that there 
were 256 motor cars and what kind and 
where; that 80 homes burned coal. 111 
wood, and 91 oil; that the town had 123 
horses and 120 people who could ride 
them. Forty-four townsfolk owned the 
974 cows, with a daily milk production 
of 1,255 gallons. Humphreys even knew 
how many people kept chickens (55), 
how many there were, to the last Dame 
Partlet (7,119), and the average number 
of eggs laid (177 dozen daily). The 



nurses, biryclist.s, owners of firearms were 
all duly recorded and filed. Arms were 
listed rifles 91, shotguns 83, revolvers 
21 and ail possessors of ammunition. 
Humphreys even inventoried the citizens 
who possessed crutches (12 pair), the 
number of rowboats, the people who 
possessed extra bcdshcets, tents, extra 
cots, mattresses, and all the sewing ma- 
chines. Even the seven people who 
knew Morse Code were carefully set 
down. The result provided Kent with 
what is probably the most detailed in- 
ventory of civilian defense resources made 
by any city or town in the forty-eight 
States. And the job of patient and me- 
ticulous preparation was done entirely 
by unpaid volunteers. 

"The survey questions were delivered 
personally," Humphreys will tell you. 
"We didn't mail them or have someone 
just leave them and run. You stayed 
and told what it was about and then 
went and got it later on. Reached 
everybody over sixteen." 

That done, Humphreys set his nine 
civilian defense committees to work, 
and has been overseeing them ever since. 
"He teaches Latin five hours every day," 
one of his fellow-townsmen pointed out to 
me, "and then coaches one of the school 
teams. After that he gives about eight 
hours daily to civilian defense. No 
wonder he says, 'No bed till one .\.m. 
in this house.' " 

Remembering that Kent is forty-five 
miles from the salt-water regions most 
likely to get the earliest bombings, you 
mierht think of such an amount of work 
as overdoing civilian defense a bit. 
But it isn't. Kent sees its problems 
clearly and knows there are really only 
two: handling of possible evacuees, and 
fire set by planes. If people are bombed 
out of Bridgeport, New Haven, or New 
York, the civilian defense workers of 
Kent are to-day ready to feed, clothe, 
and house them to the town's maximum 
capacity. On the fire threat, Kent is 
also phenomenally well prepared, and 
again chiefly because of unstinting effort 
by an individual citizen. 



242 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



The Chief Air \Varden for Ken: is For cze ziDre instance of devotion to 

Robert Xisbet, a painter in* oils. XLsbe: ibe ci\-ilian defense idea you should have 

believes that not only rould Grr:r-- ihe Kentish lad who came to the Chief 

{danes bum Kent do\\-n but ih:-: . .e -\ir Warden one day and offered his horse 

could set forest fires by bombs or showers and himself to replace one of the alarm 

of phosphorous cards which, in dr\- cars (Paul Revere cars. Kent calls them; 

weather, could almc^t \Wpe out whole \s-hich go round in the blackout. "The 

States. He therefore has organized a-i h:r?e is black, sir," pleaded this fireckle- 

trained 600 fire fighters our of Ken: '5 laced eight-year-old. "so it would be sort 

1,200 people. c: in\-isible." 

"Xo fire ever 5::-r:ed bui could at one But don't rhink that this one Connec- 

ri rr.e have beer, r .: ?u: \\-ith a glass of ticut town, with all its merits, does noi 

water," Xisbr: r.-T -::.t5: "so the ci\.-ilian wTestle \\-ith the same problems in 

defense job is :: vr ? er rre ):7.: :i\-ilian defense that your o\s— cr~- 

how to put out a me c.ery..ncre. My n2Tinit\* does. Human firailty er.Trr? h^re 

map shows the location of every house in 2s elsewhere. X'ew York Cir. z _ :r. 

Kent, A red pin sho\%3 ■ "ere f e: n :: t rrerinct I know of, durins: a test 

fire warden fives, a bra^ pin .ere ee: r 1 : r r,g could not even get Lheir 

fire pimip is kept. Ore e r. z: r. 5 . r. 1 : :: : e z r. e re r r : larters on the telephone : : r 

wardens, black rirs :ne rr.i.e rir.i n: :e en ni:::e5 r err. jse of p>eople calling 

small-sized pins me n:n:e :: ever. zi:-n in — iespire m. Liie instructions not 10 — 

in each :: zhe varirrs r: :nps. Phrne ana nn ally had to send a patrolman out 

numbers rb^e are given. Ai last caan: :: ase a pay station. After a "Blue 

the map nai ?S5 pins: our aim is 10 have Aiarm*' in Kent, Chief Warden Xisbet 

1,200, winieh. ::r Ken:, means ever^- sen: a mem: :o his wardens saying: 

body." Tnere were delays in getting phone 

Xisbet happens 10 he cne ::" :i".e :'e- crnnecnons. PercU usri thf t^^phones 

artists who can wri:e .'::;:: A:::r:- even :a z:'': z':::.: :'-.■: j j-r. '" And 

after bis name: ha: he h:is aracucah.y haere v.ai me eccaii::: a a- hzh: :: 

abandoned ar: f:r :: man aeiense. nigh: ^^-hen Kenrs piimaafer ::m a 

X~or is Ken: \N-ithout other zealots in Krde nap after dinner. Awai^ieaea : a: 
:h- m/rse The way it got its plane- 8:30 by the air raid r'.rrra .e aaaa^ri 
sa::: aa a:?: :n Treasure Hill is an ex- into his Paul Revere err, ei: :-.'.. ara^e 
ample. The pcet is an old bus body fights on and all doors fast ieakea. ana 
era er:ea into a trailer, \Wth bed, stove, dashed madly over the township to leii 
larie. ::. lamps, and all. In the winter other citizens to doiise their fights. 
it was mounted on a truck, and you In Kent too the tentacles of red tape 
climbed in by ladder. It even hi a a arammel things up. WTien the local 
rou^h windmill attached, vanes mr ae :: defense council wanted to get a magne- 
the slats of crates, which attempted 10 re- si am nre bomb for demonsaraarn and 
charsje the batter\* of the idle truck. On :r iaiaa it could not, because aii that 
winter nights, when the ?lass hit rvveniy •• : aia be against State law I So a 
below and the \%'ind howled, the elevated permit had 10 he appfied for. On 
bus- trailer is said to have s^s•ayed like a aa::aer :::a5::a :h" ----- Ci\*ilian De- 
ship. But it was warm and snu^ and iea e i aa: i ;-: ih r. rdered to\s-ns 
comfortable inside. It was the gift o: :: eauip air raid warning cars \s-ith red 
one man, the rural mail carrier. *T was iaeaaiiah3 for the blackout. Kent sud- 
building it," he told me, "to use in \'er- deai . alscovered itself blocked: such 
mont on mv fox-hunting trij>s. Sav, fiehts \~iolated State law I A way round 
did you know the Armv rates its own a rain ".-2s to get permits. To get them 
spotter posts 60 per cent efficient and ours Kea a ad to apply to the town's head 
— the ci\-iHan ones — 97 per cent?'' selectman, the fire chief, the Superin- 



CIVILIAN DEFENSE— THERE SHE STANDS 



243 



icndcni of the State Poiicc, the State 
Motor \'ehiclc Commissioner, and an 
official of the Slate Defense Council 
itself! Kent asked for 46 permits and 
received 18, after some weeks of waiting. 
Then it discovered that only five of them 
could be used on air raid warning cars! 
It is because of incidents like these that 
one citizen of Kent said to me, "Kent 
organized itself for civilian defense long 
before instructions or advice came from 
Hartford or Washington. If those higher- 
ups would only let the localities prepare 
in their own way. American communi- 
ties have always had a knack for inde- 
pendent action anyway." 



Although any town like Kent gives the 
impression that in personnel civilian de- 
fense is sound — strong in numbers and 
good in morale — the picture is not the 
same countr\"wide. The OCD in Wash- 
ington is well aware of this. "There are 
sections," Landis has said Tand recently) 
"which are relatively unawakened as to 
the imminence of danger." Some parts 
of the country, it is obvious, are to-day 
unconcerned that a people's war is going 
on. 

If you scrutinize parts of our inland 
S:a:es you will see it. As one sectional 
example: you can scan the newspapers 
of many Kansas towns and find, weeks on 
end, no news of civilian defense. Some 
nve months after Pearl Harbor the big 
communirv" activity in Emporia — Wil- 
liam Allen White's town — was the re- 
hearsals for the municipal pageant, "The 
Unseen Captain.*' They were being 
held every night, there were eight hun- 
dred people in the cast, and "excellent 
support was being given by all the clubs 
in Emporia." At Gridley the Happy- 
Go-Luck\- Quilting Club had just organ- 
ized — not for ci\TLian defense; and at 
Admire the ROS Club met and em- 
broidered tea -ov/eli for the hostess. 
The college faculty at LawTence, which is 
the University town, had dedicated its 
eiierries :o dizrine :he dandelions ou: of 



the campus, as the students, in contrast to 
former years, this year had refused to 
dig. When a test mobilization of civil- 
ian defense volunteers ^yes, there arc 
some) was called in one Kansas town, the 
newspaper announced that its purpose 
was "to see how many will show up." 

All this may be natural and normal 
r Kansas is far from our borders) and 
therefore of little significance; or it may 
suggest what may prove to be a turning 
point in civilian defense morale. No 
bombs have fallen on us yet; are our 
civilian defense volunteers here and 
there becoming bored? 

The OCD is not unconcerned about 
this possibility. "It is difficult now," one 
of their officials has said, "to get addi- 
tional personnel in the field." *'A big 
job," another remarks, "is to keep the 
local defense councils from losing inter- 
est. One way is to suggest new activi- 
ties. Recendy in some of the States we 
started rumor-exposure groups." 

Unless one night we should suddenly 
be bombed, you can safely bet that this 
problem in personnel — keeping up num- 
bers and interest — is going to increase 
rather than wane. Selective Service, 
summer farm work and, in many States, 
the inconveniences attendant on gas ra- 
tioning will almost inevitably reduce the 
rolls. And if England's experience 
proves anything, the waiting for bombs 
that do not come will knock the props 
out from under the morale. 

In England the Birmingham Air 
Raids Precautions Committee, eight 
months after war started, declared it was 
"gravely disturbed by the lack of in- 
terest shown by so many volunteers," 
and announced a recruiting campaign 
to replace resignees. Keith Ayling, the 
writer, has said that in the waiting period 
English air raid wardens were considered 
a nuisance by the public and that many 
of them, consequendy, resigned. ''They 
were bored — and believed they would 
never be needed." We should be san- 
guine indeed, human nature being what 
it is, to imagine that the same disinte- 
grating process may not set in here. 



244 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



Is there a way to meet it — and still 
keep the civilian defense set-up ready for 
emergencies if they come? The British 
found a way. They took on some of the 
volunteers as full-time paid officials, and 
intensified their training. In mid-1940 
London had over 50,000 paid ARP 
workers, and Manchester had expended 
over £460,000 on hers. Their waiting- 
period experiences have convinced them 
that civilian defense services (the air 
raid sections especially) should be re- 
duced to a skeleton organization in 
times of lull, with the members, being 
under pay, able to accept authority, give 
orders, and be penalized if they neglect 
their duties. Even the slow-on-deci- 
sions London Times concedes editorially: 
"A certain proportion of full-time paid 
persons is necessary." It is not un- 
likely that fairly soon we may find the 
same necessity here. 



Of course just one real bombing at- 
tack will probably banish most of civilian 
defense's personnel problems overnight. 
This is an army not in action, so it is not 
yet keyed to its best. When action does 
come, the peculiarly American capacity 
of the people for doing things as indi- 
viduals should come into its own. 

"When the blitz finally arrived," a 
Britisher recently said to me, "even those 
in London who had never volunteered 
became a part of the civilian defense 
effort overnight — acting as individuals. 
Take the way, when food distribution 
broke down, the women of the profes- 
sional classes, on their own initiative, 
strapped rucksacks of food on their backs 
and went into the bombed-out sections 
of the East End, and just said, 'Well, I've 
come — here's food.' If trouble starts, 
you'll find that same rising to the occa- 
sion over here." 




mmw 



HOTELS INTO HOSPITALS 



A PRACTICAL WAY TO CARE FOR AIR RAID CASUALIIES 



BY CHARLOTTE MURET 



PREPARATION for the care of the injured 
in case of air attacks is one of the 
chief needs in civiHan defense to-day. 
There are few places where existing hos- 
pitals can handle the casualties that 
may occur. 

A plan has been worked out in Moore 
County, North Carolina, which will pre- 
pare the region to meet any emergency 
at a minimum expense. The plan pro- 
poses to use local hotels to create tempo- 
rary casualty hospitals in each town in 
the county. There are seven towns in 
the district with a population aver- 
aging two thousand five hundred persons 
apiece, and each town has at least one 
hotel. Moore County is well inland, but 
an important air base is near by and 
Camp Bragg is only forty miles away. 
It was essential to provide for the dis- 
tribution of injured people about the 
county to places where they could be 
cared for. This would prevent jams and 
breakdowns at the few regular hospitals. 

The idea originated with Dr. Clement 
Monroe, the head surgeon of the prin- 
cipal hospital of the region. His hospital 
contains only seventy beds and when, 
last year, a bus accident sent some thirty 
seriously injured people there it was 
almost more than the institution could 
deal with adequately. There weren't 
enough doctors and nurses, and so great 
were the demands on the staff that a 
dangerous confinement and a very sick 
baby — from the neighborhood — could 
scarcely be attended to. Dr. Monroe 



foresaw what confusion would occur in 
the event of an air raid and at once began 
work on the hospital plan. 

There was no notion of commandeer- 
ing the hotels; the proprietors were asked 
to volunteer. Of course, in case of real 
need, their buildings would be com- 
mandeered anyway. The sacrifice is not 
great; each is asked to put two rooms per- 
manently at the disposal of the author- 
ities in charge of the casualty hospital 
plan. In one of the two rooms is stored 
the materials that will be needed if the 
hotel is used as a hospital; the other room 
is prepared for use as an operating theater. 

In every section of Moore County a 
list was drawn up of all large covered ve- 
hicles, such as trucks and station wagons, 
and their owners were asked to volunteer 
to drive them as ambulances in case 
of a raid. Each volunteer is given two 
folding stretchers to be strapped to the 
roof of the vehicle, and two blankets, 
which he is required to carry in the ve- 
hicle at all times. Good tires are essen- 
tial and the prospect of obtaining some 
degree of priority brought forward all the 
volunteers needed. 

This hotel-hospital plan can be adapted 
to the needs of almost any community. 
Its most obvious advantages are econ- 
omy, the use of existing resources, and 
the distribution of responsibility. The 
efi'ect on civilian morale is excellent: the 
people of the district know they are 
provided for and have themselves taken 
part in the providing. Hotels are better 



246 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



than schools and town halls in an emer- 
gency. If public buildings are used, 
accommodations and housekeeping facil- 
ities have to be improvisec. and volunteers 
found to cook and clean; in a hotel the 
staff and the kitchen simply go on func- 
tioning as usual. All that the room 
destined to serve as an operating theater 
requires is a suitable table, a system of 
powerful lights, and special connections 
for an electric sterilizer. 

To each of the casualty hospitals a 
staff is assigned, composed of local doctors 
and nurses and volunteer nurses' aides 
living in the neighborhood. When the 
alarm comes the doctors and nurses go 
at once to their posts, the doctors bring- 
ing with them such necessary instruments 
as are not kept in the store room and a 
sterilizer. The nurses open the operat- 
ing theater, start the sterilizer, and pre- 
pare a few beds. It may be possible to 
use the hotel's pressure cooker for aux- 
iliary sterilization. Within thirty min- 
utes the hotel is ready to function as a 
dressing station and emergency hospital; 
everything is set to receive incoming 
casualties. 

For the little hotels of smaller towns, 
where the permanent use of two rooms 
may represent a real sacrifice, the county 
authorities or the Red Gross may be 
induced to pay a small rent. 

The cost of furnishing the two per- 
manent rooms for such a -casualty hos- 
pital is slight. Three hundred and fifty 
dollars will probably cover it. Here is 
a list of the essential instruments: 

Scissors: 

3 pairs straight 

2 pairs curved 
Scalpels: 

3 with No. 20 blades 
2 with No. 11 blades 

1 B.P. knife handle No, 7— blade No. 11 
Pick-up forceps 3 pairs with teeth, or 
Tissue forceps 3 pairs with teeth 

Needle Holders: 

2 medium size 
1 large size 

1 small size 
Groove Director 1 
Hemostats: 

3 curved 



5 straight 

1 large hemostat 
Towel Clamps 7 
Mosquito Clamps: 

2 straight 

1 curved 
Kelly Clamps: 

2 curved, without teeth 
1 straight, without teeth 

Alice forceps 1 
Splinter forceps 1 
Nasal speculum 1 
Alligator forceps 1 
Tissue curet 1 
Retractors 2 with 2 prongs 
Hartman's ear syringe 1 

The local Red Cross can assemble or 
make the needed supplies, while other 
organizations canvass for volunteer hotels 
and arrange for their reimbursement. 
All this gives an outlet to local spirit in 
each town. 

Many of the supplies — bandages, 
gauze, sponges, gowns, and instruments 
— are standard goods, always in demand. 
When the need for the casualty hospital 
is over the supplies can be sold or turned 
back to the Red Gross. 

In large cities the plan may develop 
complications. Probably hotels will hesi- 
tate to volunteer, but they could perhaps 
be induced to give one floor in time of 
need. The relief to hospitals in cities 
like New York, Boston, Detroit, and Los 
Angeles would be very great if the plan 
were adopted; the hospitals would know 
that they would not be swamped sud- 
denly with great numbers of unassorted 
casualties which would disrupt the whole 
hospital system. 

It is probable that of the injured fifty 
per cent would be suffering from minor 
injuries, and could be sent home after 
treatment; twenty-five per cent might 
have to be taken to regular hospitals 
after preliminary examination. The re- 
maining twenty-five per cent would be 
cared for in the hotel-hospital. Some 
of these could pay for their care. The 
cost of looking after the rest is going to fall 
on local government anyway; provision 
for casualty hospitals will ease the burden. 

Why shouldn't this plan be widely 
adopted? 




THE WRITER IN WARTIME 



A REPORT FROM ENGLAND 



BY FRANK SWINNERTON 



AT THE end of the last world war, 
J'\^ when there was no radio and ino- 
tion pictures were still young, an English 
novelist, Arnold Bennett, was at the head 
of the British Ministry of Information. 
At the beginning of this war, although the 
direction of the Ministry was in the 
hands, successively, of men celebrated 
rather in the law or in politics, many 
English novelists received a polite in- 
quiry as to their willingness and special 
ability to assist the Ministry's work, and 
were asked not to undertake any other 
activity without first getting official ap- 
proval. The value of writers to the 
community in wartime was thus ex- 
pressly recognized. 

The response to the first inquiry may 
well have been overwhelming. For one 
thing, British authors with Nazi or Fas- 
cist sympathies could be counted upon 
the fingers of two hands. Those who, 
like Philip Gibbs, had tried hard to bring 
Britain and Nazi Germany together were 
in no sense Fascist in thought. The in- 
telligentsia, who in the last war some- 
times refused to admit that they had any 
concern with society, and who then had 
some respect for German scholarship 
and critical opinion, now had no respect 
for Germany, and were so much commit- 
ted to dialectical materialism that, how- 
ever disconcerted by the Russo-German 
Pact, they did not waver in hatred of the 
new barbarism. The rest, who had well 
understood the happenings in Spain, 
Abyssinia, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, 



knew that within twelve months the civi- 
lized world might be destroyed. 

There had been a representative meet- 
ing at Queen's Hall in the early summer 
of 1939, John Brophy in the Chair, at 
which Hugh Walpole, Compton Mac- 
kenzie, Rose Macaulay, Rosamond Lch- 
mann, Philip Guedalla, Desmond Mac- 
Carthy, and others had all spoken (some 
of them vehemently) against jackboot 
government; and those who spoke, who 
were not politicians in the sense in which 
the majority of Continental authors are 
politicians, expressed British opinion far 
more accurately than members of the 
Government, whatever their private 
views, could do in a period of dangerous 
tension. An impulse more humanely gen- 
erous than patriotism — the spirit, unless 
we are all deceived, of the new and irre- 
sistible idealism — made them ready to 
give energy and, if necessary, life for the 
salvation of liberty. 

The younger authors immediately or 
as soon as their quickly-rising age-groups 
under conscription were reached joined 
the armed forces. Some of the not so 
young rejoined. A. P. Herbert, for 
example, a man of respectable maturity, 
who fought in Gallipoli in the last war, 
was soon afloat in uniform. Christopher 
Hollis and John Strachey are in the 
R.A.F. Evelyn Waugh, R. C. Hutchin- 
son, Richard Llewellyn, Geofl'rey House- 
hold, Peter Fleming, to name only a few 
whose work is very familiar to American 



248 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



readers, became soldiers; and at least 
three of them have seen extremely active 
service. 

But that first inquiry from the Ministry 
of Information showed how well it was 
understood that in a long war men and 
women of all kinds, from countryfolk 
to miners, old ladies with shrinking in- 
comes from investments, urban shopkeep- 
ers, and Civil Servants, would need 
incessantly to be told many things they 
did not and could not already know. 
We have found that there is no need to 
dope the public with optimism — on the 
contrary, as Mr. Churchill has more than 
once remarked with grim ruefulness, the 
British public likes to know as much of 
the worst as it can by any means get hold 
of — but that its hunger and thirst for 
facts upon which to base its own judg- 
ment of what is happening are insatiable. 

The Ministry of Information has been 
a target for every sort of complaint, and 
in the English provinces it is often re- 
garded with indulgent irony, as a center 
of exceedingly sophisticated but, on the 
whole, unpractical culture. The Eng- 
lish provinces, I may say, represent the 
backbone of British opinion. They look 
toward London, but they have no more 
use than the Americans for what is merely 
genteel. They sometimes see as mere 
gentility what is really excessive tact con- 
cealing great expert knowledge. There- 
fore they have been unjust to the Ministry 
of Information. Its handicap has been, 
not unwillingness to inform, but power- 
lessness to extort facts from ever-cautious 
Service departments, which think less in 
terms of civilian instruction than in those 
of military secrecy; and the work it has 
done has been increasingly less amateur- 
ish. 

In a sense, the Ministry has been tre- 
mendously helped by the spirit of the 
people, and by the usually underrated 
intelligence of the people. Those who 
have written and spoken for it will all, 
I think, testify to the sam.e remarkable 
experience. The modern public, its wits 
quickened by films and the radio, may 
often be ignorant in particular subjects. 



It is never, where the acquisition of ur- 
gently needed knowledge is concerned, 
apathetic. Indeed, in one instance 
known to me, when through a road ac- 
cident a traveling speaker arrived after 
the night was far gone, he found his audi- 
ence waiting with its close attentiveness 
unimpaired. 

Facts. Facts about other countries, 
their ways of life, their political systems, 
and their trade, agriculture, transport, 
domestic habits, and thought. Facts 
about our own history, the history of 
the United States, the histories of China 
and Japan. Facts about Russia. Facts 
about the causes of the French collapse. 
These are what the ordinary men and 
women of Britain have wanted and what, 
at last, after a good deal of fumbling, 
they have been given. The fumbling 
was due to the belief of those who have 
been academically educated — even, as 
his writings show, such brilliant men as 
Aldous Huxley — that they were forever 
cut off from the possibility of free inter- 
change of thought with the herd. They 
are not so cut off. The difficulty is 
largely one of vocabulary and the ig- 
norance of the learned. When E. M. 
Forster writes that "the B.B.C. and 
M.O.I, conception treats the artist as 
if he were a particularly bright govern- 
ment advertiser, and encourages him to 
be friendly and matey with his fellow- 
citizens and not to give himself airs," he 
is expressing, in his scorn, this attitude 
of mind, and unconsciously testifying to 
the ability of the British Broadcasting 
Corporation and the Ministry of Infor- 
mation to learn from experience. 

It is sometimes assumed that the Min- 
istry is a propaganda machine (propa- 
ganda being the honest or dishonest pres- 
entation of a case); nothing could be less 
precise. It is what its name implies. 
But in a country in which John Smith 
and Jane Brown have as much at stake 
as any intellectual aristocrat the informa- 
tion to be given must touch every aspect 
of life in wartime. No wonder, there- 
fore, that the Ministry has taken into its 
general staff such writers as Phyllis 



THE WRI'IKR IN VVARriMI- 



249 



Bcntlcy, Theodora liciison, C. 13ay i^cwis, 
C. Arnot Robertson, Arthur Caldcr- 
Marshall. No wonder that its speakers 
range from Sir Bernard Pares (on Russia) 
and Professor Brogan (on the United 
States) to \L M. Dehifield, Sylvia Thomp- 
son, myself, Bernard Newman (our spe- 
cialist in spies), and Naomi Jacob, whose 
jolly exhortations to women are as popu- 
lar as her novels about Yorkshire fami- 
lies, and whose ability to "take" (that 
is the technical term) meeting after 
meeting must astound everybody but 
herself. 

All these speakers and of course dozens 
more, famous and less famous, have en- 
joyed great freedom. They have not 
been briefed with strict official instruc- 
tions, but have been allowed — where it 
was natural to them — to be "friendly and 
matey with their fellow-citizens" and to 
express their own points of view. Their 
audiences have ranged from round-table 
gatherings of a few responsible men to 
open meetings, on Sunday nights, of 
possibly two thousand people. They 
have had illuminating and reassuring 
contacts with innumerable types of the 
British citizen. But in order to meet 
these types and enjoy these reassurances 
they have had to undertake, without 
remuneration, much exhausting travel 
(Hugh Walpole died as the result of 
over-strain); and it must be admitted 
that for many of them; whose business is 
with their pens, such traveling and speak- 
ing is a deliberate war service, in which 
strength is wearied and the capacity for 
authorship is crippled. 

However, the Ministry of Information 
is by no means the only absorber of the 
energy of authors. The British Broad- 
casting Corporation, in its many activi- 
ties at home and overseas, has room for 
and has energetically given important 
occupation to a number of our leading 
writers. Rebecca West, for example, has 
superintended broadcast talks to Yugo- 
slavia; Norman Collins has given some of 
his own drive to the Overseas Service; 
such writers as Gerald Bullett and John 
Brophy have been speaking regularly to 



the JJoniini(jns. As for J. li. Priestley, 
there is, I am sure, no need to speak of 
his broadcasting, whicli has been one 
of the outstanding successes of British 
authorship in a new medium. Mr. 
Priestley's talks on the British radio 
brought him an immense following; and 
he has spoken far and wide all over the 
country, captivating not only the ordi- 
nary men and women of his own way of 
thinking but the very "intellectuals" who 
have hitherto decried him as somebody 
much too popular to be "first class." 

In a sense these writers who have 
found work that they can usefully do and 
those who have gone into the Forces are 
the lucky ones. I am told that there are 
many women authors, especially those 
who have hitherto contributed to maga- 
zines of all kinds (these magazines arc 
shadows of their former bulky selves), 
who are less fortunate. Some of the 
lesser-known novelists, not yet subject to 
the call-up for women, have found it 
hard to discover work that they can do. 
Their circumstances are not desperate, 
but they are not happy. They are also 
idle. The truth is that this is a war in 
which serious creative writing is made, 
for one reason or another, almost im- 
possible. 

II 

It is almost impossible because the 
daily tension is such as to affect a writer's 
power to concentrate upon his own 
imaginings. I cannot tell how far this 
tension has hampered American writers. 
That it must have hampered them I do 
not doubt. But it has been very im- 
mediate and exacting here, wearying to 
the mind, and, above all, destructive of 
that belief in the importance of what he 
is doing without which the artist cannot 
work. For this reason very little inter- 
esting literature — apart from war im- 
pressions, war-dominated memoirs, and 
perhaps discussions of a planned future 
in which we shall see no more war — 
has been produced by professional writ- 
ers. The poetry has been negligible in 
quality. The novels, written in circum- 



250 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



stances of extreme difficulty (because a 
novel, even a bad novel, takes a very 
long time to write), represent courageous 
persistence rather than the prolonged 
fire of inspiration. The plays, although 
Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" has had 
here a success comparable to its New 
York success, are for the most part so 
poor that it is kinder not to speak of 
them at all. 

It is probably unfair to condemn the 
plays because, as was the case in the last 
war, such as we have seen have been pro- 
duced as distractions, and few but the 
authors have examined the scripts of the 
works unproduced. But when the last 
war had been in progress as long as this 
one several young writers — Siegfried Sas- 
soon, Robert Graves, Robert Nichols, to 
give outstanding examples — had made 
considerable poetical reputations. Julian 
Grenfell, Rupert Brooke, and Wilfred 
Owen had left poetry which still sur- 
vives. D. H. Lawrence had published 
much of his best poetry. So many 
young women had been deeply moved by 
the war that, in their eagerness and feel- 
ing and delicacy of expression, they 
seemed to speak for all their contempora- 
ries. And it was freely said at the time 
that the war had produced a poetical 
renaissance. We continued to believe 
in the renaissance until about 1925, after 
which T. S. EHot held the field, and the 
unimpressibles went back to Words- 
worth. 

By contrast, this war has seen no new 
poetical reputations. It has seen very 
little poetry indeed. In England the 
past twenty-five years have been years 
discouraging to the Muse. They have 
been years, on the one hand, of timidity 
and, on the other, of dislike, truculence, 
and destructiveness. While, abroad, the 
young were being taught to hate, the 
young in Britain were being taught neg- 
ative things — exclusiveness, constraint, 
contempt for all but their own subcon- 
scious mysteries, great political self-right- 
eousness, and a lingo derived from Marx 
and Freud. The decadent preached 
that only through defeat and disruption, 



a sinking of Britain to insignificance, 
could we be regenerated. The ambi- 
tious apparently felt that only by de- 
bunking the famous dead and deriding 
the successful living could they justify 
their own sterility. England was not a 
hotbed of poets. As a young satirist, 
John Nicholas, has lately written: 

As virtue throve and intellects improved 
Earth's music died, for nobody was moved 
To song. . . . 

No song! No song! 

No youthful poet daring to be young ! 

They made a nerve-racked nightmare of their 

dream. 
They said all things were fouler than they seem. 
They plunged from Shelley's heaven into the 

dark blood stream. 

On the other hand, the constant in- 
escapable pressure of this war upon ci- 
vilian life may have done much to stifle 
poetry in those who are still at home, 
and the stern work of military training 
in what has become a very professional 
army may have delayed composition 
elsewhere. Soldiers are not writing 
much poetry; they are thinking, talking, 
discussing. They are learning. They 
are reading books far in character from 
the books popular with the troops in the 
last war. Tanks, mechanized transport, 
tommy guns, and machine guns cannot 
be endlessly poeticized. But they hold 
in their intricacy and terrible strength a 
suggestiveness of future order in the af- 
fairs of mankind which can, and proba- 
bly will, aff'ect the thinking of this and 
future generations. It is in thought and 
action that the younger generation will 
first show its mettle. 



Ill 

What of those through whose efforts 
the poets, the novelists, the writers about 
conditions in Germany and elsewhere are 
brought to the public attention? They 
have suff'ered a number of severe blows. 
In the bombing of London it is believed 
that twenty million existing books were 
destroyed. Several publishers lost all 
their records. The great distributing 



THE WRITER IN WARTIME 



251 



house of Simpkin, Marshall was among 
the casualties; and with its going, if an- 
other great house, W. II. Smith & Son, 
had not with notable generosity come to 
the rescue, the circulation of books to 
many of the provincial booksellers would 
have been paralyzed. Printing works 
were bombed ; binderies were bombed ; the 
stocks of innumerable books which at 
that time were filling the public eye went 
up in smoke; and so, in many cases, did 
the type and plates from which they had 
been printed. It took three months to 
bring a best-seller back into the shops, by 
which time the momentum of sales had 
disappeared; and many best-sellers went 
out of print forever owing to the loss of 
carefully hoarded paper. 

More than this, there had already 
been and there continued to be a great 
drain upon the staffs of publishers. The 
younger men joined or were conscripted 
for the Forces; slightly older men, not 
then liable for service, among them two 
outstanding publishers, Hamish Hamil- 
ton and Michael Joseph (the latter of 
whom has written an extremely critical 
book about his experiences), went at 
once into the Army; the girls and young 
women went into munitions factories or 
into one or other of the Women's Serv- 
ices. Among the printers the same thing 
happened. The girls left or were taken 
from the binderies. It would have 
seemed, to an outsider, that publishing 
was doomed. 

But publishing in England is like a 
creaking door. I remember that when 
I was fifteen years old, forty-odd years 
ago, I ought to have been discouraged 
from trying to pass from the trade in 
periodicals to the trade in books by a 
letter in which a then noted publisher 
said the whole profession was "in a 
parlous state." He spoke for all and for 
all time. Publishing can hardly ever 
have been in a more parlous state than 
it was in 1940. Yet publishers did not 
despair. They remembered the war of 
1914-1918. They knew that in that 
war, after the first panic, in which at 
least one great publisher asked his lesser 



authors to refrain from writing anything 
until the trouble had boon surmounted, 
books boomed. And their confidence 
was juslined. The number of books 
published in 1941 was almost exactly 
half the number published in 1939; the 
strict rationing of paper cut supplies to a 
third of what they had been before the 
war; yet publishers bore themselves with 
mystifying contentment, their one private 
anxiety being the Excess Profits Tax; and 
what they published they sold. 

They could have sold far more books 
than they have done if they had been 
able to get them reprinted and bound; for 
the demand for books has been so great 
that Jonathan Cape has publicly referred 
to "the coming book famine." And one 
minor trial that some publishers have 
experienced is this: they have sheet stocks 
of certain old books which, if it were pos- 
sible to spare strawboards to bind them, 
they could quite prosperously sell. The 
strawboards are not available. What 
the publishers have they need for the 
binding of new books. At this moment, 
therefore, it is the binding of books that is 
the bottleneck of production. 

The question of the appearance of 
books equally troubles those publishers 
who take pride in the comeliness of their 
publications. By Government regula- 
tion no new unillustrated book may be 
printed on a paper heavier than 65 lbs. 
to the quad crown ream (516 sheets to 
the ream), and either the percentage of 
type area to page area must not be less 
than 58 per cent, or, alternatively, the 
number of words per page of a crown 
8vo. (novel-size) book must be at least 
375. The effect of these rules is to make 
all new books disagreeably uniform, in 
some eyes repellent. 

Everybody in England knows and is 
constantly reminded that supplies of 
paper are short. But the supplies are in 
fact so short that the problem of reprints 
has become desperate. A book which 
has to be reprinted two, three, or a hun- 
dred years after publication is a book 
which is still alive, still essential to the 
public. It is either a classic or it is of 



252 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



high educational or instructional value. 
At the beginning of 1942, to give a con- 
crete example, one hundred of the 970- 
odd volumes of Everyman's Library were 
out of print, presumably for the duration 
of the war. A further 380 volumes were 
out of stock for an indefinite period. 
These volumes were all books which had 
been selected with the utmost care as rep- 
resentative of the best or most useful in 
all literatures. This was famine indeed ! 
No wonder the Paper Controller has de- 
cided to release a supplementary allow- 
ance of paper, to be allocated by a special 
committee of the Publishers' Association, 
for distribution among publishers who 
have urgent need of it for essential re- 
prints. The allowance, though small, 
will save a few books which are worth 
saving. 

Less pleasant to observe than this ar- 
rangement is the rise of dictatorial opin- 
ion among those reviewers who, when 
they think poorly of a new book, an- 
nounce that the publication of such a 
book in days of paper shortage is un- 
justifiable. If the habit should continue 
it would begin something against which 
we in England have long set our faces — 
an irresponsible censorship of literature. 
Except in the case of books dealing with 
the war, there is no censorship of books 
here. It is open to anybody who is 
shocked by what he has read to complain 
to the Home Secretary, and the book 
may then be made the ground of pro- 
ceedings before a magistrate, with possi- 
ble sequels. But the number of books 
against which proceedings are taken — 
almost always because it is alleged that 
they are concerned with sexual perver- 
sion — is infinitesimal. As it happens, 
several books are at this moment in 
trouble, which shows that there is a drive 
toward censorship; but the prosecutions 
have been instituted by the police under 
the existing laws. If reviewers are to 
set up their own kind of censorship, 
and say that paper rationing is being 
abused, the whole case upon which pub- 
lishers have secured that rationing, as 
well as the immunity of books from 



the Purchase Tax, would be endangered. 
As to this immunity, British authors 
and publishers (and readers too) owe 
much to the fact that the President of 
the Publishers' Association for 1 940 was a 
man of exceptional caliber, Geoffrey 
Faber. The Chancellor of the Excheq- 
uer decided to impose a tax on the price 
of many goods, to be called the Purchase 
Tax. Books were scheduled among 
articles liable to this tax. But Mr. 
Faber saw the situation at a glance; and 
not only the situation but the need for 
instant and authoritative opposition. Au- 
thors and publishers were summoned by 
telegram to a meeting; and at that meet- 
ing urgent decisions were taken. The 
organization of the case for literature in 
a war for ideas and ideals was converted 
into something intelligible to the British 
Treasury. The Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer was persuaded to receive a depu- 
tation. Its force was irresistible. Books, 
thanks to Mr. Faber, to his distinguished 
colleagues, and in particular (among au- 
thors) J. B. Priestley, Hugh Walpole, 
and A. P. Herbert, were saved. 

IV 

I mentioned earlier that the great dis- 
tributing house of Simpkin, Marshall had 
been destroyed by bombs. The loss of 
this firm, which was virtually a clearing 
house for books, was a great blow both 
to publishers and to country booksellers; 
and while the willing help of W. H. 
Smith & Son saved the immediate situa- 
tion, certain publishers and forward-look- 
ing booksellers acquainted with Conti- 
nental methods seized the opportunity to 
attempt the creation of a centralized store 
on the European model. The initiative 
came from the brothers Pitman, of the 
firm which most laymen associate with 
publications in shorthand. But Geoffrey 
Faber, Stanley Unwin, Walter Harrap, 
Wren Howard (of Jonathan Cape, Ltd.), 
and other active publishers were all en- 
thusiasts for the scheme. Money was 
found; premises were found; the stock of 
two hundred and eighty publishers can 



THE WRITER IN VVARJIMK 



253 



now be supplied through the organiza- 
tion. 

Some large houses stood out, and still 
stand out, on the ground that the new 
Simpkin's is a proprietary and possibly 
discriminatory concern; there was much 
criticism from booksellers who objected 
to what seemed to them to be an elabo- 
rateness of method less acceptable than 
the old carefree relation with Simpkin's; 
and the plan must be regarded as so far 
on trial for its life and general acceptance. 
But the complaints are fewer; some 
words of praise are being lisped. In a 
trade in which any expression of con- 
tentment is considered a sign of weak- 
ness, this means much. Booksellers are 
not a sanguine body. Now, bombed 
throughout the land — as if the bombs 
knew that books were the enemies of 
tyranny — they say to our authors, as 
Voltaire once said: "I disapprove of 
what you say, but I will defend to the 
death your right to say it." 

Booksellers have always been troubled 
by the fact that they could not sell books 
(for the British people are great book- 
borrowers; and housewives are only just 
learning that books can be dusted); now 
their trouble is that they have not the 
books to sell. In this they differ from 
their colleagues, the secondhand book- 
sellers, who seem to have few troubles 
and who are being much resorted to by 
a public which must have books. But 
the real difficulty, in Britain as in the 
United States, is that so many people 
have to make a living from the same 
book — the author, the publisher, the 
printer, the binder, and the bookseller; 
and the bookseller, being the last stage 
of contact between author and public, 
has always seen himself as the man who 
has been left to hold the unwanted baby. 
He now sees himself as a man with an 
empty creche, besieged by those who want 
to adopt countless children. He also 
finds his trade grouped irrevocably with 
that of news agency, stationery, tobacco 
trade, and confectionery, and subject to 
a new Minimum Wage Agreement which 
in its lower level makes him whistle, and 



in its higher makes him wonder how he 
will ever be able to attract and keep 
competent assistants. He is not opti- 
mistic about the future of bookselling. 
But in the meantime he is seUing all the 
books he can buy. As one ribald friend, 
in close touch with all such matters, 
writes to me as I complete this article, 
"The book trade is flourishing, and com- 
bining uplift with profit. What a happy 
state of affairs while it lasts!" 

We have at last a public eager to buy 
books. The prices are slightly higher 
than of old but they are well watched. 
A novel is still published at seven shillings 
and sixpence unless it is long, in which 
case the price, varying with the length, 
may be 8s. 6d., 9s. 6d., or 10s. 6d. And 
in spite of Income Tax — which for those 
of moderate means is up to ten shillings 
in the pound (50 per cent) and which is 
applied now to lower incomes than ever 
before — there has grown up a craving for 
books such as I never remember. 

For one thing, we have been con- 
victed, as a nation, of great ignorance 
of the world in which we live. We have 
been scoffed at, lectured, bombed, and 
made to suffer many humiliations. And 
at the same time we have been lauded to 
the skies; and we have discovered that 
we can do a great many things we sus- 
pected might be impossible to an old 
nation. A great thirst for knowledge has 
come upon us. Although our reading 
embraces such new novels as the authors 
can manage to produce, our real reading 
is of books which will teach us what we 
need to know. Books about Germany 
have had their vogue, which is past: the 
Germans no longer interest us; we think 
them dangerous bores. Books about 
France have passed from the rapidly 
produced arraignment of politicians to 
serious studies of the social and economic 
causes of French political sickness. We 
prefer the serious studies. Books about 
Russia, books about the United States — 
for both of which countries we have 
great admiration — are in demand. Books 
about economics, about the world which 
is to follow the war, about the problems 



254 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



of trade and production, geography, 
history, and the shrinking universe can 
count upon very large. pubUcs indeed. 
Books telUng us how to make things can- 
not be printed fast enough. In fact our 
reading pubHc has spread. It is no 
longer composed of those who want dis- 
traction; the young, who used not to 
read, are reading. The Army is read- 
ing. The workers in factory and on the 
land are reading. They are going so 
far as to buy in large numbers, and care- 
fully to read and study, the volumes of 
the Penguin Series (now priced at nine- 
pence apiece) in which John Lehmann 
collects what is elastically called "New 
Writing." The prospects are incal- 
culable. 



The tendency of nearly all speakers 
and writers is to say this year that the 
old way of life is dead, and that a ne\v 
way of life is coming. But such talk, 
like the economic proposals of our bish- 
ops, will not quite stand up to facts 
known to some of those who listen. Mr. 
E. M. Forster has said over the radio 
that he does not think there will be any 
more professional authors; the books of 
the future will all be written by men of 
action. He forgets that the men of ac- 
tion may not cease to be men of action. 
If they do write books they may still not 
dominate our literature. If the war 
continues long enough we may all be 
heartily sick of action. Mr. Forster him- 
self is already sick of it; for in another 
comment, delivered before the 17th In- 
ternational Congress of the P.E.N. Club, 
he said: 

From the poet-writer's standpoint all this 
prevalent talk about a New Order is sheer waste 
of time. There never will be a new order, 
and there never has been an old one. . . . 
\^iewed realistically, the past is merely a series 
of messes, succeeding one another by discovera- 
ble laws no doubt, and certainly marked by an 
increasing growth of human interference; but 
messes all the same. And what I hope for 
and work for to-day is for a mess more favourable 
to artists than is the present one, for a muddle 
which will provide them with fuller inspirations 
and better material conditions. . . . 



Consequently I hold that the artist ought 
to be an outsider, and that the nineteenth- 
century conception of him as a Bohemian was 
a just one. ... He does not consider too 
anxiously what his relations with the mess inside 
may be; or listen too intendy to the drone of 
the remorse-mongers as they remind him that 
he is partially to blame. He can hear some- 
thing more important than that — namely the 
invitation to create order — and he knows that 
he will be better placed for doing it if he at- 
tempts detachment. So round and round he 
slouches, with his hat pulled over his eyes and 
maybe with a louse in his beard. 

This is an important view because Mr. 
Forster is very greatly admired by the 
genteel school of young writers in Eng- 
land. What he says will influence the 
munds of those young writers; it might 
possibly influence their literary work. I 
do not think it will affect the men of ac- 
tion; and it will not cause J. B. Priestley 
to abandon his ardent advocacy of the 
people as both singers and self-governors. 
Xor will it fail to irritate those other 
writers of to-day who think the pen 
should be the servant of society. Indeed, 
Mr. Forster, in printing his speech, adds 
that, while the speech had a kind re- 
ception, 

the Congress reverted to what it considered im- 
portant. . . . Politics had not ignored them, 
so how could they ignore politics? They had 
private knives to sharpen, local armor to don, 
a few of them wanted revenge, all wanted 
security, and they valued literature only if it 
helped their particular cause or what they re- 
garded as the good of humanity. 

In other words, if English writers are 
to speak, in this hour of peril and tur- 
moil, as if human suffering is no more 
than material for art, they will find few 
philosophic enough to listen to them. 
Mr. Forster is not necessarily, therefore, 
wrong in believing that the artist should 
dissociate himself from politics; he is only 
in a minority. If he speaks as a survivor 
of the last war he does no more than 
speak for himself; if he speaks even for 
the genteelest of our young writers he 
suggests that reality has brought us all 
up against the inadequacy of pre-war 
dogmatic views on the functions of art. 
The effect of reality upon younger writ- 
ers is more important than its effect on 



THE vvRi ri:i^ 



\ WAR'] I ME 



255 



writers of Mr. I'\)is((m\s i^ciicralioii (and 
my own); hccaiisc whereas our i^eiieia- 
tion cannol hope lo prodiiee work |)eiic- 
tratcd by unfaiiiihar ideas, all who arc 
under forty, and still more all who are 
under thirty, retain a preeious sensitive- 
ness to experienee from which a modern 
literature may grow. 

A poet, whose name I do not quote 
because his words occur in a private 
letter (it is a famous name), has recently 
commented on the poetry of yesterday 
that it "seemed to me a negation of the 
sap and savor of human existence. . . . 
I foresee a revulsion toward the philoso- 
phy of Browning and Meredith. Hu- 
man beings can't Hve without hope, any 
more than they can live without some 
sort of rehgious belief. . . . How many 
writers have ever been big enough to 
speak out ruthlessly about life without 
losing their balance and distorting the 
horrors? A healthy man is happy 
minded. The time to speak out is when 
a man is fully mature and not yet losing 
vitality. Shaw has tried to, but he (I 
suspect) has entangled himself in too 
many topical notions. The outspoken- 
ness of Maugham is cold and peevish. 
One wants warm-hearted candor, surely? 
One wants the clarified result of ex- 
perience. ... I agree with you that 
words are inadequate. But I hope to 
see life less libeled and written down in 
the post-war period (though the present 
suppression of the truth about anything 
may cause an outburst of uncomfortable 
revelations — especially by the fighting 
services!)." 

"Less libeled and written down" — ex- 
pressed negatively, that may still provide 
a clue to the literature of to-morrow. I 
wish to say before I close that thought is 
changing so rapidly in England that 
any prophecy may be falsified. The 
cures for discontent, for misery, for in- 
equality, which seemed so obvious yester- 
day to some of our young warriors are 
already discarded. Such a typical spokes- 
man of Left Wing youth as Stephen 
Spender has published a small book. Life 
and the Poet, in which, amid much that 



the adnh mind nnisl find nauseous, it is 
made clear tiiat Mr. Spender himself is 
moving fast away from his own past 
certainties and toward a more liberal 
view of life. lUsewhere it is being said 
that the cure for everything is not to be 
Anmd in eccjnomics. What is very re- 
markable here is the readiness of all 
classes (and Americans are greatly puz- 
zled by the number of classes in England; 
but although incurably snobbish we also 
are a Democracy) for change and for 
sacrifice for the common good. This 
readiness has not yet been expressed in 
books; it has been expressed in action. 
But it is bound to aff'ect, after the war, 
all literature which is not polemical. 

Therefore it would be my suggestion 
that the poet I have quoted has seen 
clearly into the future when he said that 
we might see a return to the spirit of 
Browning and Meredith. Very little 
new poetry is being published. But that 
does not mean that poetry is not being 
read. The old poets are being read. 
Does that suggest something? I proph- 
esy that if we have a just and worldwide 
peace, in which men and women can 
continue to believe that mankind is going 
forward toward something other than 
dusty death, we shall have another great 
period in English literature, comparable 
to the Elizabethan or the Victorian. I 
base this belief on the conviction that 
Britain has greatly endured, and that 
she has rediscovered her own strength. 
With the social changes that politicians 
speak of I am not much concerned. 
Social changes are going on all the time; 
and nobody who has been in Britain in 
wartime can doubt that among the peo- 
ple there has been a unity and mutual 
tolerance which, if they can be continued 
in the after-war period, will abolish all 
bad sense of class and strengthen all 
those qualities of independence which 
are inherent in those who speak the 
English tongue. If our writers will 
speak for their country, as I think they 
will do, they will raise English literature 
once again to high place among the 
literatures of the world. 



^ 




JV 



ANOTHER APRIL 



A STORY 



BY JESSE STUART 



Now, Pap, you won't get cold," 
Mom said as she put a heavy wool 
cap over his head. 

"Huh, what did ye say?" Grandpa 
asked, holding his big hand cupped over 
his ear to catch the sound. 

"Wait until I get your gloves," Mom 
said, hollering real loud in Grandpa's 
ear. Mom had forgotten about his 
gloves until he raised his big bare hand 
above his ear to catch the sound of Mom's 
voice. 

"Don't get 'em," Grandpa said, "I 
won't ketch cold." 

Mom didn't pay any attention to what 
Grandpa said. She went on to get the 
gloves anyway. Grandpa turned to- 
ward me. He saw that I was looking at 
him. 

"Yer Ma's a-puttin' enough clothes on 
me to kill a man," Grandpa said, then he 
laughed a coarse laugh like March wind 
among the pine tops at his own words. 
I started laughing but not at Grandpa's 
words. He thought I was laughing at 
them and we both laughed together. 
It pleased Grandpa to think that I had 
laughed with him over something funny 
that he had said. But I was laughing 
at the way he was dressed. He looked 
like a picture of Santa Glaus. But 
Grandpa's cheeks were not cherry-red 
like Santa Glaus' cheeks. They were 
covered with white thin beard — and 
above his eyes were long white eyebrows 
almost as white as percoon petals and 
very much longer. 



Grandpa was wearing a heavy wool 
suit that hung loosely about his big body 
but fitted him tightly round the waist 
where he was as big and as round as a flour 
barrel. His pant legs were as big round 
his pipe-stem legs as emptied meal sacks. 
And his big shoes, with his heavy wool 
socks dropping down over their tops, 
looked like sled runners. Grandpa wore 
a heavy wool shirt and over his wool shirt 
he wore a heavy wool sweater and then 
his coat over the top of all this. Over his 
coat he wore a heavy overcoat and about 
his neck he wore a wool scarf. 

The way Mom had dressed Grandpa 
you'd think there was a heavy snow on 
the ground but there wasn't. April was 
here instead and the sun was shining on 
the green hills where the wild plums and 
the wild crab apples were in bloom 
enough to make you think there were 
big snowdrifts sprinkled over the green 
hills. When I looked at Grandpa and 
then looked out at the window at the 
sunshine and the green grass I laughed 
more. Grandpa laughed with me. 

"I'm a-goin' to see my old friend," 
Grandpa said just as Mom came down 
the stairs with his gloves. 

"Who is he. Grandpa?" I asked, but 
Grandpa just looked at my mouth work- 
ing. He didn't know what I was saying. 
And he hated to ask me the second time. 

Mom put the big wool gloves on 
Grandpa's hands. He stood there just 
like I had to do years ago, and let Mom 
put his gloves on. If Mom didn't get 



ANOTHER APRIL 



257 



his fingers back in the glovc-fingcrs ex- 
actly right Grandpa quarreled at Mom. 
And when Mom fixed his fingers exactly 
right in his gloves the way he wanted 
them Grandpa was pleased. 

"I'll be a-goin' to sec 'im," Grandpa 
said to Mom. "I know he'll still be 
there." 

Mom opened our front door for 
Grandpa and he stepped out slowly, 
supporting himself with his big cane in 
one hand. With the other hand he held 
to the door facing. Mom let him out of 
the house just like she used to let me out 
in the spring. And when Grandpa left 
the house I wanted to go with him, but 
Mom wouldn't let me go. I wondered 
if he would get away from the house — 
get out of Mom's sight — and pull off his 
shoes and go barefooted and wade the 
creeks like I used to do when Mom let 
me out. Since Mom wouldn't let me go 
with Grandpa, I watched him as he 
walked slowly down the path in front of 
our house. Mom stood there watching 
Grandpa too. I think she was afraid 
that he would fall. But Mom was 
fooled; Grandpa toddled along the path 
better than my baby brother could. 

"He used to be a powerful man," 
Mom said more to herself than she did to 
me. "He was a timber cutter. No man 
could cut more timber than my father; 
no man in the timber woods could sink 
an ax deeper into a log than my father. 
And no man could lift the end of a bigger 
saw log than Pap could." 

"Who is Grandpa goin' to see. Mom?" 
I asked. 

"He's not goin' to see anybody," Mom 
said. 

"I heard 'im say that he was goin' to 
see an old friend," I told her. 

"Oh, he was just a-talkin'," Mom said. 

I watched Grandpa stop under the 
pine tree in our front yard. He set his 
cane against the pine tree trunk, pulled 
off his gloves and put them in his pocket. 
Then Grandpa stooped over slowly, as 
slowly as the wind bends down a sapling, 
and picked up a pine cone in his big soft 
fingers. Grandpa stood fondling the 



pine cone in his hand. Then, one by 
one, he pulled the little chips from the 
pine cone — tearing it to pieces like he was 
hunting for something in it — and after 
he had torn it to pieces he threw the 
pine-cone stem on the ground. Then 
he pulled pine needles from a low hang- 
ing pine bough and he felt of each pine 
needle between his fingers. He played 
with them a long time before he started 
down the path. 

"What's Grandpa doin'?'! I asked 
Mom. 

But Mom didn't answer me. 

"How long has Grandpa been with 
us?" I asked Mom. 

"Before you's born," she said. "Pap 
has been with us eleven years. He was 
eighty when he quit cuttin' timber and 
farmin'; now he's ninety-one." 

I had heard her say that when she was 
a girl he'd walk out on the snow and ice 
barefooted and carry wood in the house 
and put on the fire. He had shoes but 
he wouldn't bother to put them on. 
And I heard her say that he would cut 
timber on the coldest days without socks 
on his feet but with his feet stuck down in 
cold brogan shoes and he worked 
stripped above the waist so his arms 
w^ould have freedom when he swung his 
double-bitted ax. I had heard her tell 
how he'd sweat and how the sweat in his 
beard would be icicles by the time he got 
home from work on the cold winter days. 
Now Mom wouldn't let him get out of 
the house for she wanted him to live a 
long time. 

As I watched Grandpa go down the 
path toward the hog pen he stopped to 
examine every little thing along his path. 
Once he waved his cane at a butterfly as 
it zigzagged over his head, its polka- 
dot wings fanning the blue April air. 
Grandpa would stand when a puff of 
wind came along, and hold his face 
against the wind and let the wind play 
with his white whiskers. I thought 
maybe his face w^as hot under his beard 
and he was letting the wind cool his face. 
When he reached the hog pen he called 
the hogs down to the fence. They came 



258 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



running and grunting to Grandpa just 
like they were talking to him. I knew 
that Grandpa couldn't hear them trying 
to talk to him but be could see their 
mouths working and he knew they were 
trying to say something. He leaned his 
cane against the hog pen, reached over 
the fence, and patted the hogs' heads. 
Grandpa didn't miss patting one of our 
seven hogs. 

As he toddled up the little path along- 
side the hog pen he stopped under a 
blooming dogwood. He pulled a white 
blossom from a bough that swayed over 
the path above his head, and he leaned 
his big bundled body against the dog- 
wood while he tore each petal from the 
blossom and examined it carefully. 
There wasn't anything his dim blue eyes 
missed. He stopped under a redbud 
tree before he reached the garden to 
break a tiny spray of redbud blossoms. 
He took each blossom from the spray and 
examined it carefully. 

"Gee, it's funny to watch Grandpa," I 
said to Mom, then I laughed. 

"Poor Pap," Mom said, "he's seen a 
lot of Aprils come and go. He's seen 
more Aprils than he will ever see again." 

I don't think Grandpa missed a thing 
on the little circle he took before he 
reached the house. He played with a 
bumblebee that was bending a wind- 
flower blossom that grew near our corn- 
crib beside a big bluff. But Grandpa 
didn't try to catch the bumblebee in his 
big bare hand. I wondered if he would 
and if the bumblebee would sting him, 
and if he would holler. Grandpa even 
pulled a butterfly cocoon from a black- 
berry briar that grew beside his path. I 
saw him try to tear it into shreds but he 
couldn't. There wasn't any butterfly 
in it, for I'd seen it before. I wondered 
if the butterfly with the polka-dot wings, 
that Grandpa waved his cane at when 
he first left the house, had come from this 
cocoon. I laughed when Grandpa 
couldn't tear the cocoon apart. 

"I'll bet I can tear that cocoon apart 
for Grandpa if you'd let me go help 
him," I said to Mom. 



"You leave your Grandpa alone," 
Mom said. "Let 'im enjoy April." 

Then I knew that this was the first 
time Mom had let Grandpa out of the 
house all winter. I knew that Grandpa 
loved the sunshine and the fresh April air 
that blew from the redbud and dogwood 
blossoms. He loved the bumblebees, 
the hogs, the pine cones, and pine 
needles. Grandpa didn't miss a thing 
along his walk. And every day from 
now on until just before frost Grandpa 
would take this little walk. He'd stop 
along and look at everything as he had 
done summers before. But each year 
he didn't take as long a walk as he had 
taken the year before. Now this spring 
he didn't go down to the lower end of the 
hog pen as he had done last year. And 
when I could first remember Grandpa 
going on his walks he used to go out of 
sight. He'd go all over the farm. And 
he'd come to the house and take me on 
his knee and tell me about all that he had 
seen. Now Grandpa wasn't getting out 
of sight. I could see him from the win- 
dow along all of his walk. 

Grandpa didn't come back into the 
house at the front door. He tottled 
around back of the house toward the 
smokehouse and I ran through the living 
room to the dining room so I could look 
out at the window and watch him. 

"Where's Grandpa goin'?" I asked 
Mom. 

"Now never mind," Mom said. "Leave 
your Grandpa alone. Don't go out 
there and disturb him." 

"I won't bother 'im. Mom," I said. 
"I just want to watch 'im.". 

"All right," Mom said. 

But Mom wanted to be sure that I 
didn't bother him so she followed me into 
the dining room. Maybe she wanted to 
see what Grandpa was going to do. She 
stood by the window and we watched 
Grandpa as he walked down beside our 
smokehouse where a tall sassafras tree's 
thin leaves fluttered in the blue April 
wind. Above the smokehouse and the 
tall sassafras was a blue April sky — so 
high you couldn't see the sky-roof. It 



ANOTHER Al'KlL 



259 



was just blue space and little white clouds 
floated upon this blue. 

When Grandpa reached the smoke- 
house he leaned his cane against the 
sassafras tree. He let himself down 
slowly to his knees as he looked carefully 
at the ground. Grandpa was looking at 
something and I wondered what it was. 
I just didn't think or I would have 
known. 

"There you arc, my good old friend," 
Grandpa said. 

"Who is his friend, Mom?" I asked. 

Mom didn't say anything. Then I 
saw. 

"He's playin' with that old terrapin, 
Mom," I said. 

"I know he is," Mom said. 

"The terrapin doesn't mind if Grandpa 
strokes his head with his hand," I said. 

"I know it," Mom said. 

"But the old terrapin won't let me do 
it," I said. "Why does he let Grandpa?" 

"The terrapin knows your Grandpa." 

"He ought to know me," I said, "but 
when I try to stroke his head with my 
hand, he closes up in his shell." 

Mom didn't say anything. She stood 
by the window watching Grandpa and 
listening to Grandpa talk to the terrapin. 

"My old friend, how do you like the 
sunshine?" Grandpa asked the terrapin. 

The terrapin turned his fleshless face to 
one side like a hen does when she looks 
at you in the sunlight. He was trying to 
talk to Grandpa; maybe the terrapin 
could understand what Grandpa was 
saying. 

"Old fellow, it's been a hard winter," 
Grandpa said. "How have you fared 
under the smokehouse floor?" 

"Does the terrapin know what Grandpa 
is sayin'?" I asked Mom. 

"I don't know," she said. 

"I'm awfully glad to see you, old fel- 
low," Grandpa said. 

He didn't offer to bite Grandpa's big 
soft hand as he stroked his head. 

"Looks like the terrapin would bite 
Grandpa," I said. 

"That terrapin has spent the winters 
under that smokehouse for fifteen years," 



Mom said. 'Pap has been acquainted 
with him for eleven years. He's been 
talkin' to that terrapin every spring." 

"How does Grandpa know the terrapin 
is old?" I asked Mom. 

"It's got 1847 cut on its shell," Mom 
said. "We know he's ninety-five years 
old. He's older than that. We don't 
know how old he was when that date was 
cut on his back." 

"Who cut 1847 on his back. Mom?" 

"I don't know, child," she said, "but 
I'd say whoever cut that date on his 
back has long been under the ground." 

Then I wondered how a terrapin 
could get that old and what kind of a 
looking person he was who cut the date 
on the terrapin's back. I wondered 
where it happened — if it happened near 
where our house stood. I wondered who 
lived here on this land then, what kind 
of a house they lived in, and if they had a 
sassafras with tiny thin April leaves on its 
top growing in their yard, and if the per- 
son that cut the date on the terrapin's 
back was buried at Plum Grove, if he had 
farmed these hills where we lived to-day 
and cut timber like Grandpa had — and 
if he had seen the Aprils pass like 
Grandpa had seen them and if he en- 
joyed them like Grandpa was enjoying 
this April. I wondered if he had looked 
at the dogwood blossoms, the redbud 
blossoms, and talked to this same terra- 
pin. 

"Are you well, old fellow?" Grandpa 
asked the terrapin. 

The terrapin just looked at Grandpa. 

"I'm well as common for a man of my 
age," Grandpa said. 

"Did the terrapin ask Grandpa if he 
was well?" I asked Mom. 

"I don't know," Mom said. "I can't 
talk to a terrapin." 

"But Grandpa can.'! 

"Yes." 

"Wait until tomatoes get ripe and 
we'll go to the garden together," 
Grandpa said. 

"Does a terrapin eat tomatoes?" I 
asked Mom. 

"Yes, that terrapin has been eatin' 



260 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



tomatoes from our garden for fifteen 
years," Mom said. "When Mick was 
tossin' the terrapins out of the tomato 
patch, he picked up this one and found 
the date cut on his back. He put him 
back in the patch and told him to help 
himself. He lives from our garden 
every year. We don't bother him and 
don't allow anybody else to bother him. 
He spends his winters under our smoke- 
house floor buried in the dry ground." 

"Gee, Grandpa looks like the terra- 
pin," I said. 

Mom didn't say anything; tears came 
to her eyes. She wiped them from her 
eyes with the corner of her apron. 

"I'll be back to see you," Grandpa 



said. "I'm a-gettin' a little chilly; I'll 
be gettin' back to the house." 

The terrapin twisted his wrinkled 
neck without moving his big body, pok- 
ing his head deeper into the April wind as 
Grandpa pulled his bundled body up by 
holding to the sassafras tree trunk. 

"Good-by, old friend !" 

The terrapin poked his head deeper 
into the wind, holding one eye on 
Grandpa, for I could see his eye shining 
in the sinking sunlight. 

Grandpa got his cane that was leaned 
against the sassafras tree trunk and 
hobbled slowly toward the house. The 
terrapin looked at him with first one eye 
and then the other. 



SOLAR SONG 



BY LORRAINE CATHERON 



IE AVE meaning alone. DonH talk 
J But remember in echoes. Be still 
While the deep sea sings to you, while the alarm 
Sounds out jrom the storm, while the sky 
With its high individual bells 
Provides its own voice. Be patient, 
Wait for the rain, for its balanced lyrics. 
Its swijt intermezzos — -for snow. 
Sheer drift of innocent song. 
Be a listener only. The roots will tell you 
Their own dark strains, surge and creation. 
Hear the cries from the roses^ lips, or the limpid 
Violet warnings. The social stones 
Will unloosen their shocks of words. 
The grave ice will swing forward 
Solemn cadenzas. Weeds will speak 
Their fitful impressions, their delicate messages. 
Everything, given its tongue. 
Will be truthful enough, be fluent enough. 
Never seek. For the world^s urge spells it all 
Out in great brave sentences, now and forever, 
Everywhere solar song. 




FREEDOM TO PRODUCE 



PROPOSING A DYNAMIC POST-WAR INDUSTRIAL PROGRAM 



BY JOSEPH H. SPIGELMAN 



WE SHALL be unable to overcome 
economic defeatism if we are afraid 
to be realistic about the sources from 
which it arises. The fact is that millions 
of loyal Americans believe that the more 
fully we mobilize for war and the more 
adequately we readjust to the peace 
after the war the more seriously and 
irreparably will their own interests be 
hurt. It isn't Axis psychological warfare 
which makes them think so; it is their 
own experience. Unless we dare under- 
stand how brutally real this danger is, 
no plans by any of the one hundred post- 
war planning agencies will have any 
significance and no reassurances of a 
thousand publicists will carry any con- 
viction. Nor will people postpone wor- 
rying about their future until after the 
war merely because Donald Nelson tells 
them to, unless we dare penetrate into 
the quite material core of their worries 
and start drilling away at it. 

The last war left America's civilian 
economy relatively undisturbed. At its 
peak, in 1918, war expenditures took only 
twenty-three per cent of national income, 
as compared with the estimated sixty 
per cent of national income which will 
go into the war effort in 1 943. But even 
this does not reveal the whole difference. 
By far our greatest contribution to the 
Allied war effort last time was in the 
form of food, raw materials, and indus- 
trial staples, all of which required expan- 
sion of productive facilities rather than 



conversion. Only in shipping and in 
small arms and ammunition did our 
production of the finished armaments of 
war reach significant proportions, and 
these too were in the main the products of 
expanded facilities. Further, at no time 
was our access to Asia, Oceania, Africa, 
and South America — our major sources 
of raw materials — seriously threatened in 
spite of U-boat activity. 

Since, therefore, there was incom- 
parably less occasion for conversion then 
than there is to-day, it was not until the 
middle of 1918 that the job began really 
to be undertaken at all. And it was 
never any more than a half-hearted and, 
by our present standards, unimportant 
affair — a mere by-consequence of prior- 
ities rather than a positive policy. (For 
example, not a single order was issued 
which completely prohibited the produc- 
tion of any civilian product, whereas 
hundreds of stop-production orders have 
already been issued in this war.) As a 
result, when the war ended, our domestic 
economy was left with only one problem 
of abiding significance (apart from the 
traditional problems of the inflation- 
deflation cycle) : that of excess capacity. 

So far in our efforts to set up adequate 
correctives for the post-war consequences 
of our current war economy we have 
largely solved the problems of the last 
war. The amortization provision in cor- 
poration income taxes and the fact that 
upward of eighty-five per cent of all new 
war production plant has been financed 



26: 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



by the government have reheved business 

of most of its old anxieties about excess 
capacity. (What the government will 
do with the industrial capacity it will own 
is, it is recognized, a political rather than 
an economic problem, and therefore 
easier to handle.) 

Quite naturally, most business men 
tried desperately to confine the war- 
production efTort within the terms of the 
solution provided for it. Up to Pearl 
Harbor they succeeded quite well in 
making this a war of excess capacities 
only. Since it cost them nothing and 
since it involved little risk, patriotic in- 
dustrialists vied with one another for the 
chance to build new war plant. (The 
opposition of aluminum, steel, and 
power companies to expansion was not 
typical of American industry as a whole; 
and even this opposition weakened long 
before our entry into the war.) In this 
new plant, production for war could be 
kept apart from ordinary civilian pro- 
duction; here the disruptive effects of war 
economy could be minimized and con- 
trolled. But though some people, in 
and out of WPB, are still keeping up a 
forlorn fight against total conversion, the 
battle is now definitely lost. We are now 
irretrievably involved in the first total- 
conversion war in history. Each busi- 
ness, each trade, each skill must either 
find and hold its place within the rigid 
framework of a war economy, or find 
no place at all save as the recipient of 
whatever pittance the government may 
be pleased to contribute to its relief. 

If these dislocations were only tempo- 
rary, it would be comparatively easy to 
bear with fortitude the sacrifices they 
entail. But conversion will have conse- 
quences that will extend far beyond the 
war and be more serious than those 
of mere excess capacity — consequences, 
moreover, that have nothing to do with 
the possibility of a post-war depression, 
that may indeed be worse if we avert a 
depression. For businesses which un- 
dergo conversion tend to lose their mar- 
ket position to firms which somehow 
escape conversion or — more frequently 



and irremediably — to new products and 
services which arise to satisfy an insistent 
civilian demand. Other firms, forced to 
share their trade and production secrets 
through pooling arrangements and the 
compulsory licensing of patents, will lose 
the advantage derived from the exclusive 
possession of these secrets. Xor are 
business men the only ones hurt by total 
conversion. Millions of workmen are 
being shifted to occupations and com- 
munities that will have no place for them 
after the war, while, on the other hand, 
skills which previously were tightly held 
by small groups of privileged workers are 
being diffused, so that there will in- 
evitably be a decline in the post-war 
value of these skills. Total conversion 
means the upsetting of traditional rou- 
tines, the breakup of old monopolies, the 
loss of established positions, the feverish 
shifting about of man power, the trans- 
mutation of our whole economy. 

And most of what is lost in this trans- 
formation will be lost forever. Floyd 
Odium, formerly chief of the Contract 
Distribution Division of the old OPM, 
was right when he told Congress: ''A 
shut-down plant and disbanded organ- 
ization will be hard and oftentimes im- 
possible to revive." Just as hard, and 
quite as often impossible, will it be to 
reconvert a piece of equipment or a 
plant to peacetime use, or to recapture a 
peacetime skill forgotten during the long 
years of war. We are the nation of 
single-purpose machine tools. Our very 
factories, with their minute specialization 
of functions and skills and their intricate 
organization, are themselves huge, single- 
purpose machine tools. Our workmen 
too are predominantly machine-tenders, 
trained to a particular type of machine; 
not like the artisans of Germany's 2,000.- 
000 handicraft shops or even like most of 
Britain's skilled and semi-skilled work- 
men, all-round mechanics. And those 
who are being trained for war work now 
are, for the most part, learning some 
specialized war-production machine — 
not machinery. The skills and tools and 
factories that we are converting to special 



FREEDOM TO PRODUCE 



263 



war purposes will he a( I(\isl as expensive 
to reconvert to the peculiar uses of 
peace. 

If it were only a matter of expense, 
reconversion would perhaps be no pjreater 
problem than conversion is now. But 
this war is also a great technological 
revolution, perhaps the very greatest 
ever. It is a revolution that is forcing 
whole industries into obsolescence. No 
assurances of return, no guarantees that 
concentrated production will be un- 
scrambled again, no "victory" brands 
and models are going to protect the 
positions of firms converted to war work 
(or of those hit by material and labor 
shortages, or of those stripped of their 
equipment by commandeering) unless 
the nation is willing and able to prohibit 
technological progress and to close our 
markets to new products. The urgencies 
of war have of course broken through the 
customary barriers to innovation; and 
each innovation, as soon as it gets a 
footing, creates a new group of interests 
that will not willingly yield ground to 
those who might wish to reoccupy their 
old positions. Nor, indeed, would it be 
in the national interest to compel indus- 
trial reaction even if it were feasible. The 
new experiences with close tolerances and 
hard steel, the new construction methods 
and building materials, the new alumi- 
num and magnesium alloys, the new 
plastics, the new ceramics, the new 
synthetic fibers, rubber, oils, drugs, bris- 
tles, and whatnot, will be found better 
and cheaper for many uses than the 
products and methods they will displace. 
And displacement will therefore be 
permanent. 

But it does not follow that those who 
succeed in making a satisfactory wartime 
adjustment will therefore be secure in 
their new interests. They will still have 
to reconvert to peace. Since many of 
the new developments will be insecurely 
grounded in a war economy, and since 
they will — for that very reason — have 
but uncertain title to protection, they 
will in turn be exposed to still newer 
shifts and innovations and will again 



suffer maladjustnumt and displacement. 
There will again be, in Donald Nelson's 
words, a "better way to do almost every- 
thing." Victory will ncU be a stepping 
back to the peace before tlie war, but a 
two-step-forward movement. And those 
who cannot successfully maneuver both 
steps will kxse their stake in the economy. 

II 

Conversion to war and reconversion 
to peace will not mean, however, that the 
country as a whole will be any worse ofT. 
Quite the contrary. In spite of what- 
ever devastation air raids and other ac- 
cidents of war may occasion, in spite of 
the necessity of scrapping some of the 
inconvertible war plant, our country will 
be immeasurably better off. The build- 
ing of new plant (generally more efficient 
than the old), the spreading of useful 
skills, the development of new products 
and of new industrial technics and proc- 
esses, the newly won freedom for inven- 
tion and for the application of invention, 
the overcoming of old scarcities, the 
cultivation of new crops, the more inten- 
sive exploitation of our mineral re- 
sources, the breakup of old monopolies 
in industry and labor, the liquidation of 
old debts and claims, the bankruptcy of 
thousands of chronically maladjusted and 
inefficient firms — all these will make 
the nation as a whole vastly more produc- 
tive and its standard of living higher 
than it has ever been. Since, moreover, 
the war will have taught us how to make 
even the strongest economic power re- 
sponsible to the needs of the nation as a 
whole, and how, in general, to organize 
for full production, there will be less 
inevitability about a post-war depression 
than most of us believe. In the very 
ruin of special interests we should at last 
have our golden opportunity to rise 
above these interests to an economy of 
abundance. 

But we dare not take advantage of that 
opportunity. For the special interests 
that are to-day threatened with ruin are 
not the "vested interests" of old; not the 



264 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



interests of the rich and powerful, but 
of the poor and weak; not the interests 
of "big business" and -^bloated capital- 
ists" but of little business and of labor 
and of the farmers and of all the * 'little 
people." If it were still a case of the 
"vested interests" against the "common 
people" the solution would be simple. 
We could expropriate the vested interests 
and have done with it. But the conflict 
to-day is between everyone's common 
interests and almost everyone's special 
interests. That is altogether a different 
matter. 

After the last war "big business" was 
loaded down with excess capacity and 
inflated capital structures and was in- 
fested with the inefficiency, the malad- 
justment, and the obsolescence that breed 
so freely under protection. Not so to- 
day; still less so after the present war. 
True, certain big businesses still enjoy a 
large measure of protection for their fat 
incompetence, but this they owe not so 
much to their own inherent strength as 
to the fortunate alliances they have made 
with "little people": with small and in- 
stitutional investors (the case of railroads, 
for example), with powerful trade unions 
(for instance, the alliance of the coal 
operators with the United Mine Work- 
ers), with little business and community 
interests (as in the case of the power 
companies' successful campaign against 
the St. Lawrence waterway and power 
project). Nevertheless a decade of de- 
pression and public hostility, of TNEG 
and of Thurman Arnold's relatively vig- 
orous trust-busting has made big busi- 
ness — as a whole — lean, respectable, and 
alert. 

Then, from the time war broke out in 
Europe to the last quarter of 1941, 
when subcontracting first began to gather 
momentum, big business enjoyed the 
considerable advantage of having vir- 
tually the whole field of defense produc- 
tion to itself. This gave it a long time to 
make adjustments — a period, moreover, 
when it could operate and make its 
profits under the leniencies of peace 
instead of the rigors of war. Our entry 



into the war found it, accordingly, less 
unprepared to serve the country — and 
itself — than the small business man. 
When the war ends big business will be 
in possession of much new and unbur- 
dened capacity; it will have used its 
profits to liquidate much of its debt; 
and it will be able to draw upon generous 
"reserves for special contingencies," upon 
the fruits of all its present labors in re- 
search and planning, and upon whatever 
other expedients its "vice-presidents in 
charge of planning for the future" can 
think up. Big business will emerge from 
the war more sound and more progressive 
than it has ever been. 

How different the situation of small 
business! For one thing, as tolerance 
of backwardness and inefficiency in big 
business declines, incompetence seeks its 
last refuge in small business, where it can 
still get full public support. And since 
the effects of war will aggravate malad- 
justments, small business will be in ever 
greater need of that support. Its limited 
technical and financial resources make 
adjustment to war a difficult and hazard- 
ous venture — where, indeed, it is feasible 
at all — and readjustment to peace a 
nightmarish prospect. James S. Knowl- 
son, head of the Division of Industrial 
Operations of WPB, in charge of conver- 
sion, summed up the situation last Febru- 
ary: "liig business is more anxious for 
conversion than anything else. . . . They 
have a great variety of products. They 
have great facilities for change from the 
production of one thing to another. . . . 
And so the conversion of a large plant is 
not a serious matter. The real problem, 
the fundamental problem, is the middle- 
sized business, the business that has been 
created to compete with the big business 
on a specific line; the man who, with his 
ingenuity, his skill, has developed a 
single product. . . . His problem is a 
difficult one. . . ." It will be no less 
difficult for him to reconvert to peace, 
and it will be a great deal more risky, 
since it will not be conversion to the 
determinate needs of one great big war 
machine, but to the infinitely various, 



FREEDOM TO PRODUCE 



265 



unpredictable demands of civilian cus- 
tomers. 

The bi(T producers of staples like steel, 
rubber, oil, and aluminum; the standard 
services, like transportation and the pub- 
lic utilities; the manufacturers of durable 
goods with a fairly dependable market, 
hke automobiles, radios, and refrigera- 
tors; huge concerns, like duPont and 
General Electric, with their ever-chang- 
ing kaleidoscope of products and their 
independence of any of them; the whole- 
salers, mail-order houses, and chain- 
store companies which can so easily ac- 
commodate themselves to population 
shifts — all of these have little reason to 
worry about post-war reconstruction. 
But what is to happen to the closed- 
down small enterprise, left far behind in 
the onward rush of technology and 
fashion; and to the small metal foundry 
or textile mill, when after the war the old 
raw material is displaced by some new 
synthetic which they are not equipped to 
handle; and to thousands of small build- 
ing contractors and their millions of 
workmen, most of them with antiquated 
skills, when the construction industry is 
finally overtaken by the full impact of 
prefabricated housing and when con- 
struction costs begin to count again; and 
to thousands of small storekeepers, who 
will find themselves stranded in ghost 
towns; and to hundreds of thousands of 
cultivators of export crops, when foreign 
agriculture recovers from the war? 

Small wonder there is so much "save 
small business" agitation in Congress. 
Senator Murray, Chairman of the Sen- 
ate's Special Committee to Study the 
Problems of American Small Business, 
was right (except for his exaggeration of 
the political strength of big business) 
when he told his colleagues on February 
5 th that unless effective protection is 
given "we shall find that when the war 
has ended, the battered and decimated 
ranks of small business will be too weak 
to carry on; and big business, backed by 
its great financial and political powers, 
will move in and occupy the entire 
field. . . ." 



Ill 



After this war we shall be caught 
squarely on the horns of the most funda- 
mental dilemma of our age. On the 
one hand, most of small business and 
large sections of labor and agriculture 
are reactionary. What they fear most 
is not depression, but rather a vigorous 
post-war expansion, in which they, how- 
ever, would lose their old places. To 
the extent to which we yield to such fears 
our whole economy will inevitably be- 
come reactionary. We shall be unable 
to carry through a swift and thorough 
demobilization, especially since no for- 
eign menace will inspire that singleness 
of purpose which makes the present 
mobilization possible. We shall be un- 
able to liberate that trade on which so 
many of our hopes for world peace and 
prosperity depend. And we shall, there- 
fore, again have, and this time in its 
most virulent form, an economy of 
sheltered incompetence, of frozen high 
costs and administered high prices, of 
managed scarcity and mass unemploy- 
ment. It will be an economy paralyzed 
by fears of the expansion of trade and 
production, because in the process of our 
economic growth a number of claims to 
wealth will be wiped out and a number of 
sinecures in production vacated. Be- 
cause such an economy will have lost all 
it yet retains of its old dynamism, nothing 
will remain but for government to take 
up more and more of the slack, until it 
assumes full control of production in the 
special interest of the incompetents. 

Thurman Arnold, in his recent Democ- 
racy and Free Enterprise has well said: "A 
nation that fears production . . . enters 
the race for production dragging a ball 
and chain." A nation which permits 
its special interests to stand in the way 
of the fullest, the most efficient, and the 
best adjusted production will risk defeat 
in war and internal decay in peace. A 
nation that affords protection to the 
inefficient and maladjusted must itself 
become inefficient and maladjusted. A 
nation that recognizes that war creates 



266 



HARPER'S MAGAZINE 



new interests which deserve to be pro- 
tected runs the danger of perpetuating 
its war economy indefinitely. A nation 
which puts the protection of claims to 
wealth above the creation of wealth will 
have increasing claims and decreasing 
wealth. 

On the other hand, because so many 
of our people will expect personal ruin 
(no matter how the country as a whole 
may fare) as we move toward a fully 
adjusted economy of abundance, there 
will be the danger that economic de- 
featism will continue to grow apace and 
our national morale be sapped. Effi- 
ciency itself will suffer. The researches 
of F. J. Roethlisberger and his associates 
in the Harvard School of Business have 
shown how a laborer's productivity 
declines when his psychologic